Skip to main content

Full text of "The anti-slavery crusade; a chronicle of the gathering storm"

See other formats

T H E 

North Carolina State Library 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 
State Library of North Carolina 












', 3 »*^, ,"> T ' ^ 

■■ * ■> i 5 , , 

j'% ':>' 

' J J 3 J 1 , 

> J > J 3 D 3 ) 

5 " > > 3 J 3 

£j'irwTe,Ajni£rsETj.-LcLirLb JJaN-Y^ 
















\n7 ^ 

Copyright, 1919, by Yale University Press 






VI. the! slavery issue in POLITICS " 85 










JNDEX " 237 




Photograph by Gutekunst, Philadelphia. Frontispiece 


Painting by S. F. B. Morse. In the Metropoli- 
tan Museum of Art, New York. Facing page 36 


Bust by Horatio Greenough. In the collection 

of the New York Historical Society. " " 78 

FRANKLIN PIERCE. Daguerreotype in the 
collection of L. C. Handy, Washington. 

MILLARD FILLMORE. Drawing from a daguer- 
reotype. " " 15Jt 



Photographs in the collection of the Kansas 

State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. " " 20Jj^ 




The Emancipation Proclamation of President 
Lincoln marks the beginning of the end of a long 
chapter in human history. Among the earliest 
forms of private property was the ownership of 
slaves. Slavery as an institution had persisted 
throughout the ages, always under protest, always 
provoking opposition, insurrection, social and 
civil war, and ever bearing within itself the seeds 
of its own destruction. Among the historic powers 
of the world the United States was the last to up- 
hold slavery, and when, a few years after Lincoln's 
proclamation, Brazil emancipated her slaves, 
property in man as a legally recognized institution 
came to an end in all civilized countries. 

Emancipation in the United States marked the 



conclusion of a century of continuous debate, in 
which the entire history of western civilization 
was traversed. The literature of American slavery 
is, indeed, a summary of the literature of the world 
on the subject. The Bible was made a standard 
text-book both for and against slavery. Hebrew 
and Christian experiences were exploited in the 
interest of the contending parties in this crucial 
controversy. Churches of the same name and 
order were divided among themselves and became 
half pro-slavery and half anti-slavery. 

Greek experience and Greek literature were 
likewise drawn into the controversy. The Greeks 
themselves had set the example of arguing both 
for and against slavery. Their practice and their 
prevailing teaching, however, gave support to this 
institution. They clearly enunciated the doctrine 
that there is a natural division among human 
beings; that some are born to command and others 
to obey; that it is natural to some men to be 
masters and to others to be slaves; that each of 
these classes should fulfill the destiny which nature 
assigns. The Greeks also recognized a difference 
between races and held that some were by nature 
fitted to serve as slaves, and others to command 
as masters. The defenders of American slavery 


therefore found among the writings of the Greeks 
their chief arguments already stated in classic 

Though the Romans added little to the theory 
of the fundamental problem involved, their history 
proved rich in practical experience. There were 
times, in parts of the Roman Empire, when per- 
sonal slavery either did not exist or was limited 
and insignificant in extent. But the institution 
grew with Roman wars and conquests. In rural dis- 
tricts, slave labor displaced free labor, and in the 
cities servants multiplied with the concentration of 
wealth. The size and character of the slave popu- 
lation eventually became a perpetual menace to 
the State. Insurrections proved formidable, and 
every slave came to be looked upon as an enemy 
to the public. It is generally conceded that the 
extension of slavery was a primary cause of the 
decline and fall of Rome. In the American con- 
troversy, therefore, the lesson to be drawn from 
Roman experience was utilized to support the 
cause of free labor. 

After the Middle Ages, in which slavery under 
the modified form of feudalism ran its course, there 
was a reversion to the ancient classical controversy. 
The issue became clearly defined in the hands of 


the English and French philosophers of the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries. In place of the 
time-honored doctrine that the masses of mankind 
are by nature subject to the few who are born to 
rule, the contradictory dogma that all men are by 
nature free and equal was clearly enunciated. 
According to this later view, it is of the very nature 
of spirit, or personality, to be free. All men are 
endowed with personal qualities of will and choice 
and a conscious sense of right and wrong. To sub- 
ject these native faculties to an alien force is to 
make war upon human nature. Slavery and des- 
potism are, therefore, in their nature but a species 
of warfare. They involve the forcing of men to 
act in violation of their true selves. The older 
doctrine makes government a matter of force. 
The strong command the weak, or the rich exer- 
cise lordship over the poor. The new doctrine 
makes of government an achievement of adult 
citizens who agree among themselves as to what is 
fit and proper for the good of the State and who 
freely observe the rules adopted and apply force 
only to the abnormal, the delinquent, and the 

Between the upholders of these contradictory 
views of human nature there always has been and 


there always must be perpetual warfare. Their 
difference is such as to admit of no compromise; 
no middle ground is possible. The conflict is 
indeed irresistible. The chief interest in the 
American crusade against slavery arises from its 
relation to this general world conflict between 
liberty and despotism. 

The Athenians could be democrats and at the 
same time could uphold and defend the institu- 
tion of slavery. They were committed to the doc- 
trine that the masses of the people were slaves 
by nature. By definition, they made slaves 
creatures void of will and personality, and they 
conveniently ignored them in matters of state. 
But Americans living in States founded in the era 
of the Declaration of Independence could not be 
good democrats and at the same time uphold and 
defend the institution of slavery, for the Declara- 
tion gives the lie to all such assumptions of human 
inequality by accepting the cardinal axiom that all 
men are created equal and are endowed with cer- 
tain inalienable rights, among which are life, lib- 
erty, and the pursuit of happiness. The doctrine 
of equality had been developed in Europe without 
special reference to questions of distinct race or 
color. But the terms, which are universal and as 


broad as humanity in their denotation, came to be 
applied to black men as well as to white men. 
Massachusetts embodied in her state constitution 
in 1780 the words, "All men are born free and 
equal," and the courts ruled that these words in 
the state constitution had the effect of liberating 
the slaves and of giving to them the same rights as 
other citizens. This is a perfectly logical applica- 
tion of the doctrine of the Revolution. 

The African slave-trade, however, developed ear- 
lier than the doctrine of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. Negro slavery had long been an estab- 
lished institution in all the American colonies. 
Opposition to the slave-trade and to slavery was 
an integral part of the evolution of the doctrine of 
equal rights. As the colonists contended for their 
own freedom, they became anti-slavery in senti- 
ment. A standard complaint against British rule 
was the continued imposition of the slave-trade 
upon the colonists against their oft-repeated 

In the original draft of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, there appeared the following charges 
against the King of Great Britain: 

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, 
violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the 


persons of distant people who never offended him, cap- 
tivating and carrying them into slavery in another 
hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their trans- 
portation thither. This piratical warfare, the oppro- 
brium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian 
King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a 
market where men should be bought and sold, he has 
prostituted his negative for suppressing every legisla- 
tive attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable 

Though this clause was omitted from the docu- 
ment as finally adopted, the evidence is abundant 
that the language expressed the prevailing senti- 
ment of the country. To the believer in liberty 
and equality, slavery and the slave-trade are in- 
stances of war against human nature. No one 
attempted to justify slavery or to reconcile it with 
the principles of free government. Slavery was 
accepted as an inheritance for which others were to 
blame. Colonists at first blamed Great Britain; 
later apologists for slavery blamed New England 
for her share in the continuance of the slave-trade. 

The fact should be clearly comprehended that 
the sentiments which led to the American Revolu- 
tion, and later to the French Revolution in Europe, 
were as broad in their application as the human 
race itself — that there were no limitations nor 


exceptions. These new principles involved a com- 
plete revolution in the previously recognized 
principles of government. The French sought to 
make a master-stroke at immediate achievement 
and they incurred counter-revolutions and delays. 
The Americans moved in a more moderate and 
tentative manner towards the great achievement, 
but with them also a counter-revolution finally 
appeared in the rise of an influential class w^ho, by 
openly defending slavery, repudiated the principles 
upon which the government was founded. 

At first the impression was general, in the South 
as well as in the North, that slavery was a tem- 
porary institution. The cause of emancipation 
was already advocated by the Society of Friends 
and some other sects. A majority of the States 
adopted measures for the gradual abolition of 
slavery, but in other cases there proved to be in- 
dustrial barriers to emancipation. Slaves were 
found to be profitably employed in clearing away 
the forests; they were not profitably employed in 
general agriculture. A marked exception was 
found in small districts in the Carolinas and Geor- 
gia where indigo and rice were produced; and 
though cotton later became a profitable crop for 
slave labor, it was the producers of rice and indigo 


who furnished the original barrier to the immediate 
extension of the policy of emancipation. Repre- 
sentatives from their States secured the introduc- 
tion of a clause into the Constitution which delayed 
for twenty years the execution of the will of the 
country against the African slave-trade. It is said 
that a slave imported from Africa paid for himself 
in a single year in the production of rice. There 
were thus a few planters in Georgia and the Caro- 
linas who had an obvious interest in the prolonga- 
tion of the institution of slavery and who had 
influence enough to secure constitutional recogni- 
tion for both slavery and the slave-trade. 

The principles involved were not seriously de- 
bated. In theory all were abolitionists; in practice 
slavery extended to all the States. In some, actual 
abolition was comparatively easy; in others, it was 
difficult. By the end of the first quarter of the 
nineteenth century, actual abolition had extended 
to the line separating Pennsylvania from Mary- 
land. Of the original thirteen States seven be- 
came free and six remained slave. 

The absence of ardent or prolonged debate 
upon this issue in the early history of the United 
States is easily accounted for. No principle of 
importance was drawn into the controversy; few 


presumed to defend slavery as a just or righteous 
institution. As to conduct, each individual, each 
neighborhood enjoyed the freedom of a large, 
roomy country. Even within state lines there was 
liberty enough. No keen sense of responsibility 
for a uniform state policy existed. It was there- 
fore not difficult for those who were growing 
wealthy by the use of imported negroes to maintain 
their privileges in the State. 

If the sense of active responsibility was wanting 
within the separate States, much more was this 
true of the citizens of different States. Slavery 
was regarded as strictly a domestic institution. 
Families bought and owned slaves as a matter of 
individual preference. None of the original colo- 
nies or States adopted slavery by law. The citizens 
of the various colonies became slaveholders simply 
because there was no law against it. ^ The aboli- 
tion of slavery was at first an individual matter or 
a church or a state policy. When the Constitution 
was formulated, the separate States had been 
accustomed to regard themselves as possessed 
of sovereign powers; hence there was no occasion 
for the citizens of one State to have a sense of 

* In the case of Georgia there was a prohibitory law, which 
was disregarded. 


responsibility on account of the domestic institu- 
tions of other States. The consciousness of national 
responsibility was of slow growth, and the condi- 
tions did not then exist which favored a general 
crusade against slavery or a prolonged acrimonious 
debate on the subject, such as arose forty years 

In many of the States, however, there were or- 
ganized abolition societies, whose object was to 
promote the cause of emancipation already in 
progress and to protect the rights of free negroes. 
The Friends, or Quakers, were especially active in 
the promotion of a propaganda for universal 
emancipation. A petition which was presented 
to the first Congress in February, 1790, with the 
signature of Benjamin Franklin as President of the 
Pennsylvania Abolition Society, contained this 
concluding paragraph : 

From a persuasion that equal liberty was originally, 
and is still, the birthright of all men, and influenced by 
the strong ties of humanity and the principles of their 
institutions, your memorialists conceive themselves 
bound to use all justifiable endeavors to loosen the bonds 
of slavery, and to promote the general enjoyment of the 
blessings of freedom. Under these impressions they 
earnestly entreat your attention to the subject of 
slavery; that you will be pleased to countenance the 


restoration to liberty of those unhappy men, who, alone, 
in this land of freemen, are groaning in servile subjec- 
tion; that you will devise means for removing this in- 
consistency of character from the American people; that 
you will promote mercy and justice towards this dis- 
tressed race; and that you will step to the very verge of 
the power vested in you for discouraging every species 
of traffic in the persons of our f ellowmen. ' 

The memorialists were treated with profound 
respect. Cordial support and encouragement came 
from representatives from Virginia and other slave 
States. Opposition was expressed by members 
from South Carolina and Georgia. These for the 
most part relied upon their constitutional guaran- 
ties. But for these guaranties, said Smith, of South 
Carolina, his State would not have entered the 
Union. In the extreme utterances in opposition 
to the petition there is a suggestion of the revolu- 
tion which was to occur forty years later. 

Active abolitionists who gave time and money 
to the promotion of the cause were always few in 
numbers. Previous to 1830 abolition societies re- 
sembled associations for the prevention of cruelty 
to animals — in fact, in one instance at least this 
was made one of the professed objects. These 

* William Goodell, Slavery and Anti-Slavery, p. 99. 


societies labored to induce men to act in harmony 
with generally acknowledged obligations, and they 
had no occasion for violence or persecution. Abo- 
litionists were distinguished for their benevolence 
and their unselfish devotion to the interests of the 
needy and the unfortunate. It was only when the 
ruling classes resorted to mob violence and began 
to defend slavery as a divinely ordained institution 
that there was a radical change in the spirit of the 
controversy. The irrepressible conflict between 
liberty and despotism which has persisted in all 
ages became manifest when slave-masters substi- 
tuted the Greek doctrine of inequality and slavery 
for the previously accepted Christian doctrine of 
equality and universal brotherhood. 



It was a mere accident that the line drawn by 
Mason and Dixon between Pennsylvania and Mary- 
land became known in later years as the dividing 
line between slavery and freedom. The six States 
south of that line ultimately neglected or refused 
to abolish slavery, while the seven Northern States 
became free. Vermont became a State in 1791 and 
Kentucky in 179^. The third State to be added 
to the original thirteen was Tennessee in 1796. At 
that time, counting the States as they were finally 
classified, eight were destined to be slave and eight 
free. Ohio entered the Union as a State in 1802, 
thus giving to the free States a majority of one. 
The balance, however, was restored in 1812 by the 
admission of Louisiana as a slave State. The ad- 
mission of Indiana in 1816 on the one side and of 
Mississippi in 1817 on the other still maintained 
the balance: ten free States stood against ten slave 



States. During the next two years Illinois and 
Alabama were admitted, making twenty-two 
States in all, still evenly divided. 

The ordinance for the government of the terri- 
tory north of the Ohio River, passed in 1787 and 
reenacted by Congress after the adoption of the 
Constitution, proved to be an act of great signifi- 
cance in its relation to the limitation of slavery. 
By this ordinance slavery was forever prohibited 
in the Northwest Territory. In the territory south 
of the Ohio River slavery became permanently es- 
tablished. The river, therefore, became an exten- 
sion of the original Mason and Dixon's Line with 
the new meaning attached: it became a division 
between free and slave territory. 

It was apparently at first a mere matter of 
chance that a balance was struck between the two 
classes of States. While Virginia remained a slave 
State, it was natural that slavery should extend 
into Kentucky, which had been a part of Virginia. 
Likewise Tennessee, being a part of North Caro- 
lina, became slave territory. When these two 
Territories became slave States, the equal division 
began. There was yet an abundance of territory 
both north and south to be taken into the Union 
and, without any special plan or agitation. States 


were admitted in pairs, one free and the other slave. 
In the meantime there was distinctly developed 
the idea of the possible or probable permanence of 
slavery in the South and of a rivalry or even a 
future conflict between the two sections. 

When in 1819 Missouri applied for admission 
to the Union with a state constitution permitting 
slavery, there was a prolonged debate over the 
whole question, not only in Congress but through- 
out the entire country. North and South were 
distinctly pitted against each other with rival 
systems of labor. The following year Congress 
passed a law providing for the admission of Mis- 
souri, but, to restore the balance, Maine was sepa- 
rated from Massachusetts and was admitted to 
the Union as a State. It was further enacted that 
slavery should be forever prohibited from all terri- 
tory of the United States north of the parallel 36° 
30', that is, north of the southern boundary of 
Missouri. It is this part of the act which is known 
as the Missouri Compromise. It was accepted as 
a permanent limitation of the institution of slavery. 
By this act Mason and Dixon's Line was extended 
through the Louisiana Purchase. As the western 
boundary was then defined, slavery could still be 
extended into Arkansas and into a part of what is 


now Oklahoma, while a great empire to the north- 
west was reserved for the formation of free States. 
Arkansas became a slave State in 1836 and Michi- 
gan was admitted as a free State in the following 

With the admission of Arkansas and Michigan, 
thirteen slave States were balanced by a like num- 
ber of free States. The South still had Florida, 
which would in time become a slave State. Against 
this single Territory there was an immense region 
to the northwest, equal in area to all the slave 
States combined, which, according to the Ordi- 
nance of 1787 and the Missouri Compromise, had 
been consecrated to freedom. Foreseeing this 
condition, a few Southern planters began a move- 
ment for the extension of territory to the south and 
west immediately after the adoption of the Mis- 
souri Compromise. When Arkansas was admitted 
in 1836, there was a prospect of the immediate 
annexation of Texas as a slave State. This did not 
take place until nine years later, but the propa- 
ganda, the object of which was the extension of 
slave territory, could not be maintained by those 
who contended that slavery was a curse to the 
country. Virginia, therefore, and other border 
slave States, as they became committed to the 


policy of expansion, ceased to tolerate official 
public utterances against slavery. 

Three more or less clearly defined sections appear 
in the later development of the crusade. These are 
the New England States, the Middle States, and 
the States south of North Carolina and Tennessee. 
In New England, few negroes were ever held as 
slaves, and the institution disappeared during the 
first years of the Republic. The inhabitants had 
little experience arising from actual contact with 
slavery. When slavery disappeared from New 
England and before there had been developed in 
the country at large a national feeling of respon- 
sibility for its continued existence, interest in the 
subject declined. For twenty years previous to the 
founding of Garrison's Liberator in 1831, organized 
abolition movements had been almost unknown in 
New England. In various ways the people were 
isolated, separated from contact with slavery. 
Their knowledge of this subject of discussion was 
academic, theoretical, acquired at second-hand. 

In New York and New Jersey slaves were much 
more numerous than in New England. There were 
still slaves in considerable numbers until about 
1825. The people had a knowledge of the institu- 
tion from experience and observation, and there 


was no break in the continuity of their organized 
abolition societies. Chief among the objects of 
these societies was the effort to prevent kidnapping 
and to guard the rights of free negroes. For both 
of these purposes there was a continuous call for 
activity. Pennsylvania also had freedmen of her 
own whose rights called for guardianship, as well as 
many freedmen from farther south who had come 
into the State. 

The movement of protest and protection did not 
stop at Mason and Dixon's Line, but extended far 
into the South. In both North Carolina and Ten- 
nessee an active protest against slavery was at all 
times maintained. In this great middle section of 
the country, between New England and South 
Carolina, there was no cessation in the conflict 
between free and slave labor. Some of these States 
became free while others remained slave; but be- 
tween the people of the two sections there was con- 
tinuous communication. Slaveholders came into 
free States to liberate their slaves. Non-slave- 
holders came to get rid of the competition of slave 
labor, and free negroes came to avoid reenslave- 
ment. Slaves fled thither on their way to liberty. 
It was not a matter of choice; it was an unavoid- 
able condition which compelled the people of the 


border States to give continuous attention to the 
institution of slavery. 

The modern anti-slavery movement had its 
origin in this great middle section, and from the 
same source it derived its chief support. The great 
body of active abolitionists were from the slave 
States or else derived their inspiration from per- 
sonal contact with slavery. As compared with 
New England abolitionists, the middle-state folk 
were less extreme in their views. They had a 
keener appreciation of the difficulties involved in 
emancipation. They were more tolerant towards 
the idea of letting the country at large share the 
burdens involved in the liberation of the slaves. 
Border-state abolitionists naturally favored the 
policy of gradual emancipation which had been 
followed in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsyl- 
vania. Abolitionists who continued to reside in 
the slave States were forced to recognize the fact 
that emancipation involved serious questions of 
race adjustment. From the border States came 
the colonization society, a characteristic institu- 
tion, as well as compromise of every variety. 

The southernmost section, including South Caro- 
lina, Georgia, and the Gulf States, was even more 
sharply defined in the attitude it assumed toward 


the anti-slavery movement. At no time did the 
cause of emancipation become formidable in this 
section. In all these States there was, of course, a 
large class of non-slaveholding whites, who were 
opposed to slavery and who realized that they 
were victims of an injurious system; but they had 
no effective organ for expression. The ruling mi- 
nority gained an early and an easy victory and 
to the end held a firm hand. To the inhabitants of 
this section it appeared to be a self-evident truth 
that the white race was born to rule and the black 
race was born to serve. Where negroes outnum- 
bered the whites fourfold, the mere suggestion of 
emancipation raised a race question which seemed 
appalling in its proportions. Either in the Union 
or out of the Union, the rulers were determined 
to perpetuate slavery. 

Slavery as an economic institution became de- 
pendent upon a few semitropical plantation crops. 
When the Constitution was framed, rice and indigo, 
produced in South Carolina and Georgia, were the 
two most important. Indigo declined in relative 
importance, and the production of sugar was de- 
veloped, especially after the annexation of the 
Louisiana Purchase. But by far the most impor- 
tant crop for its effects upon slavery and upon the 


entire country was cotton. This single product 
finally absorbed the labor of half the slaves of the 
entire country. Mr. Rhodes is not at all unreason- 
able in his surmise that, had it not been for the 
unforeseen development of the cotton industry, the 
expectation of the founders of the Republic that 
slavery would soon disappear would actually have 
been realized. 

It was more difficult to carry out a policy of 
emancipation when slaves were quoted in the 
market at a thousand dollars than when the 
price was a few hundred dollars. All slave-own- 
ers felt richer; emancipation appeared to involve 
a greater sacrifice. Thus the cotton industry went 
far towards accounting for the changed attitude 
of the entire country on the subject of slavery. 
The North as well as the South became finan- 
cially interested. 

It was not generally perceived before it actually 
happened that the border States would take the 
place of Africa in furnishing the required supply of 
laborers for Southern plantations. The interstate 
slave-trade gave to the system a solidarity of in- 
terest which was new. All slave-owners became 
partakers of a common responsibility for the sys- 
tem as a whole. It was the newly developed trade 


quite as much as the system of slavery itself which 
furnished the ground for the later anti-slavery 
appeal. The consciousness of a common guilt for 
the sin of slavery grew with the increase of actual 
interstate relations. 

The abolition of the African slave-trade was an 
act of the general Government. Congress passed 
the prohibitory statute in 1807, to go into eflFect 
in January, 1808. At no time, however, was the 
prohibition entirely effective, and a limited ille- 
gal trade continued until slavery was eventually 
abolished. This inefficiency of restraint furnished 
another point of attack for the abolitionists. 
Through efforts to suppress the African slave-trade, 
the entire country became conscious of a common 
responsibility. Before the Revolutionary War, 
Great Britain had been censured for forcing cheap 
slaves from Africa upon her unwilling colonies. 
After the Revolution, New England was blamed 
for the activity of her citizens in this nefarious 
trade both before and after it was made illegal. 
All of this tended to increase the sense of re- 
sponsibility in every section of the country. 
Congress had made the foreign slave-trade il- 
legal; and citizens in all sections gradually be- 
came aware of the possibility that Congress might 


likewise restrict or forbid interstate commerce in 

The West Indies and Mexico were also closely 
associated with the United States in the matter of 
slavery. When Jamestown was founded, negro 
slavery was already an old institution in the islands 
of the Caribbean Sea, and thence came the first 
slaves to Virginia. The abolition of slavery in the 
island of Hayti, or San Domingo, was accomplished 
during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic 
Wars. As incidental to the process of emancipa- 
tion, the Caucasian inhabitants were massacred or 
banished, and a republican government was estab- 
lished, composed exclusively of negroes and mulat- 
toes. From the date of the Missouri Compromise 
to that of the Mexican War, this island was united 
under a single republic, though it was afterwards 
divided into the two republics of Hayti and San 

The "horrors of San Domingo" were never ab- 
sent from the minds of those in the United States 
who lived in communities composed chiefly of 
slaves. What had happened on the island was ac- 
cepted by Southern planters as proof that the two 
races could live together in peace only under the re- 
lation of master and slave, and that emancipation 


boded the extermination of one race or the 
other. Abolitionists, however, interpreted the 
facts differently: they emphasized the tyranny of 
the white rulers as a primary cause of the massacres; 
they endowed some of the negro leaders with the 
highest qualities of statesmanship and self-sacri- 
ficing generosity; and Wendell Phillips, in an im- 
passioned address which he delivered in 1861, 
placed on the honor roll above the chief worthies of 
history — including Cromwell and Washington — 
Toussaint L'Ouverture, the liberator of Hayti, 
whom France had betrayed and murdered. 

Abolitionists found support for their position in 
the contention that other communities had abol- 
ished slavery without such accompanying horrors 
as occurred in Hayti and without serious race con- 
flict. Slavery had run its course in Spanish Amer- 
ica, and emancipation accompanied or followed the 
formation of independent republics. In 1833 all 
slaves in the British Empire were liberated, includ- 
ing those in the important island of Jamaica. So 
it happened that, just at the time when Southern 
leaders were making up their minds to defend their 
peculiar institution at all hazards, they were beset 
on every side by the spirit of emancipation. Abo- 
litionists, on the other hand, were fully convinced 


that the attainment of some form of emancipation 
in the United States was certain, and that, either 
peaceably or through violence, the slaves would 
ultimately be liberated. 



At the time when the new cotton industry was 
enhancing the value of slave labor, there arose from 
the ranks of the people those who freely conse- 
crated their all to the freeing of the slave. Among 
these, Benjamin Lundy, a New Jersey Quaker, 
holds a significant place. 

Though the Society of Friends fills a large place 
in the anti-slavery movement, its contribution to 
the growth of the conception of equality is even 
more significant. This impetus to the idea arises 
from a fundamental Quaker doctrine, announced 
at the middle of the seventeenth century, to the 
effect that God reveals Himself to mankind, not 
through any priesthood or specially chosen agents; 
not through any ordinance, form, or ceremony ; not 
through any church or institution ; not through any 
book or written record of any sort; but directly, 
through His Spirit, to each person. This direct 



enlightening agency they deemed coextensive with 
humanity; no race and no individua? is left without 
the ever-present illuminating Spirit. If men of old 
spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, what 
they spoke or wrote can furnish no reliable guid- 
ance to the men of a later generation, except as 
their minds also are enlightened by the same Spirit 
in the same way. "The letter killeth; it is the 
Spirit that giveth life." 

This doctrine in its purity and simplicity places 
all men and all races on an equality; all are alike 
ignorant and imperfect; all are alike in their need 
of the more perfect revelation yet to be made. 
Master and slave are equal before God; there can 
be no such relation, therefore, except by doing vio- 
lence to a personality, to a spiritual being. In har- 
mony with this fundamental principle, the Society 
of Friends early rid itself of all connection with 
slavery. The Friends' Meeting became a refuge 
for those who were moved by the Spirit to testify 
against slavery. 

Born in 1789 in a State which was then under- 
going the process of emancipating its slaves, Ben- 
jamin Lundy moved at the age of nineteen to 
Wheeling, West Virginia, which had already be- 
come the center of an active domestic slave- 


trade. The pious young Quaker, now appren- 
ticed to a saddler, was brought into personal 
contact with this traffic in human flesh. He 
felt keenly the national disgrace of the iniquity. 
So deep did the iron enter into his soul that 
never again did he find peace of mind except in 
efforts to relieve the oppressed. Like hundreds 
and thousands of others, Lundy was led on to 
active opposition to the trade by an actual knowl- 
edge of the inhumanity of the business as prose- 
cuted before his eyes and by his sympathy for 
human suffering. 

His apprenticeship ended, Lundy was soon es- 
tablished in a prosperous business in an Ohio 
village not far from Wheeling. Though he now 
lived in a free State, the call of the oppressed was 
ever in his ears and he could not rest. He drew 
together a few of his neighbors, and together they 
organized the Union Humane Society, whose ob- 
ject was the relief of those held in bondage. In a 
few months the society numbered several hundred 
members, and Lundy issued an address to the phi- 
lanthropists of the whole country, urging them to 
unite in like manner with uniform constitutions, 
and suggesting that societies so formed adopt a 
policy of correspondence and cooperation. At 


about the same time, Lundy began to publish anti- 
slavery articles in the Mount Pleasant Philanthro- 
pist and other papers. 

In 1819 he went on a business errand to St. 
Louis, Missouri, where he found himself in the 
midst of an agitation over the question of the ex- 
tension of slavery in the States. With great zest 
he threw himself into the discussion, making use of 
the newspapers in Missouri and Illinois. Having 
lost his property, he returned poverty-stricken to 
Ohio, where he founded in January, 1821, the 
Genius of Universal Emancipation. A few months 
later he transferred his paper to the more congenial 
atmosphere of Jonesborough, Tennessee, but in 
1824 he went to Baltimore, Maryland. In the 
meantime, Lundy had become much occupied in 
traveling, lecturing, and organizing societies for 
the promotion of the cause of abolition. He states 
that during the ten years previous to 1830 he had 
traveled upwards of twenty-five thousand miles, 
five thousand of which were on foot. He now 
became interested in plans for colonizing negroes 
in other countries as an aid to emancipation, 
though he himself had no confidence in the colo- 
nization society and its scheme of deportation to 
Africa. After leading a few negroes to Hayti in 


1829, he visited Canada, Texas, and Mexico with 
a similar plan in view. 

During a trip through the Middle States and 
New England in 1828, Lundy met William Lloyd 
Garrison, and the following year he walked all the 
way from Baltimore to Bennington, Vermont, for 
the express purpose of securing the assistance of 
the youthful reformer as coeditor of his paper. 
Garrison had previously favored colonization, but 
within the few weeks which elapsed before he 
joined Lundy, he repudiated all forms of coloniza- 
tion and advocated immediate and unconditional 
emancipation. He at once told Lundy of his change 
of views. "Well," said Lundy, "thee may put 
thy initials to thy articles, and I will put my wit- 
ness to mine, and each will bear his own burden." 
The two editors were, however, in complete accord 
in their opposition to the slave-trade. Lundy had 
suffered a dangerous assault at the hands of a Bal- 
timore slave-trader before he. was joined by Gar- 
rison. During the year 1830, Garrison was con- 
victed of libel and thrown into prison on account 
of his scathing denunciation of Francis Todd of 
Massachusetts, the owner of a vessel engaged in 
the slave-trade. 

These events brought to a crisis the publication 


of the Genius of Universal Emancipation, The edi- 
tors now parted company. Again Lundy moved 
the office of the paper, this time to Washington, 
D. C, but it soon became a peripatetic monthly, 
printed wherever the editor chanced to be. In 
1836 Lundy began the issue of an anti-slavery 
paper in Philadelphia, called the National Inquirer, 
and with this was merged the Genius of Universal 
Emancipation. He was preparing to resume the 
issue of his original paper under the old title, in La 
Salle County, Illinois, when he was overtaken by 
death on August 22, 1839. 

Here was a man without education, without 
wealth, of a slight frame, not at all robust, who had 
undertaken, singlehanded and without the shadow 
of a doubt of his ultimate success, to abolish Ameri- 
can slavery. He began the organization of societies 
which were to displace the anti-slavery societies 
of the previous century. He established the first 
paper devoted exclusively to the cause of emanci- 
pation. He foresaw that the question of emancipa- 
tion must be carried into politics and that it must 
become an object of concern to the general Gov- 
ernment as well as to the separate States. In the 
early part of his career he found the most congen- 
ial association and the larger measure of effective 


support south of Mason and Dixon's Line, and in 
this section were the greater number of the aboli- 
tion societies which he organized. During the later 
years of his life, as it was becoming increasingly 
diflBcult in the South to maintain a public anti- 
slavery propaganda, he transferred his chief activi- 
ties to the North. Lundy serves as a connecting 
link between the earlier and the later anti-slavery 
movements. Eleven years of his early life belong 
to the century of the Revolution. Garrison re- 
corded his indebtedness to Lundy in the words: 
**If I have in any way, however humble, done 
anything towards calling attention to slavery, or 
bringing out the glorious prospect of a complete 
jubilee in our country at no distant day, I feel that' 
I owe everything in this matter, instrumentally 
under God, to Benjamin Lundy." 

Different in type, yet even more significant on 
account of its peculiar relations to the cause of 
abolition, was the life of James Gillespie Birney, 
who was born in a wealthy slaveholding family at 
Dansville, Kentucky, in the year 1792. The Bir- 
neys were anti-slavery planters of the type of 
Washington and Jefferson. The father had labored 
to make Kentucky a free State at the time of its 
admission to the Union. His son was educated 


first at Princeton, where he graduated in 1810, and 
then in the office of a distinguished lawyer in Phila- 
delphia. He began the practice of law at his home 
at the age of twenty- two. His home training and 
his residence in States which were then in the pro- 
cess of gradual emancipation served to confirm him 
in the traditional conviction of his family. While 
Benjamin Lundy, at the age of twenty-seven, was 
engaged in organizing anti-slavery societies north 
of the Ohio River, Birney at the age of twenty -four 
was influential as a member of the Kentucky Legis- 
lature in the prevention of the passing of a joint 
resolution calling upon Ohio and Indiana to make 
laws providing for the return of fugitive slaves. 
He was also conspicuous in his efforts to secure 
provisions for gradual emancipation. Two years 
later he became a planter near Huntsville, Ala- 
bama. Though not a member of the Constitu- 
tional Convention preparatory to the admission 
of this Territory into the Union, Birney used his 
influence to secure provisions in the constitution 
favorable to gradual emancipation. As a member 
of the first Legislature, in 1819, he was the author 
of a law providing a fair trial by jury for slaves 
indicted for crimes above petty larceny, and in 1826 
he became a regular contributor to the American 


Colonization Society, believing it to be an aid to 
emancipation. The following year he was able to 
induce the Legislature, although he was not then 
a member of it, to pass an act forbidding the im- 
portation of slaves into Alabama either for sale or 
for hire. This was regarded as a step preliminary 
to emancipation. 

The cause of education in Alabama had in Bir- 
ney a trusted leader. During the year 1830 he 
spent several months in the North Atlantic States 
for the selection of a president and four professors 
for the State University and three teachers for the 
Huntsville Female Seminary. These were all em- 
ployed upon his sole recommendation. On his re- 
turn he had an important interview with Henry 
Clay, of whose political party he had for several 
years been the acknowledged leader in Alabama. 
He urged Clay to place himself at the head of the 
movement in Kentucky for gradual emancipation. 
Upon Clay's refusal their political cooperation ter- 
minated. Birney never again supported Clay for 
office and regarded him as in a large measure re- 
sponsible for the pro-slavery reaction in Kentucky. 

Birney, who had now become discouraged re- 
garding the prospect of emancipation, during the 
winter of 1831 and 1832 decided to remove his 


family to Jacksonville, Illinois. He was deterred 
from carrying out his plan, however, by his un- 
expected appointment as agent of the coloniza- 
tion society in the Southwest — a mission which 
he undertook from a sense of duty. 

In his travels throughout the region assigned to 
him, Birney became aware of the aggressive de- 
signs of the planters of the Gulf States to secure 
new slave territories in the Southwest. In view of 
these facts the methods of the colonization society 
appeared utterly futile. Birney surrendered his 
commission and, in 1833, returned to Kentucky 
with the intention of doing himself what Henry 
Clay had refused to do three years earlier, still 
hoping that Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee 
might be induced to abolish slavery and thus place 
the slave power in a hopeless minority. His dis- 
appointment was extreme at the pro-slavery re- 
action which had taken place in Kentucky. The 
condition called for more drastic measures, and 
Birney decided to forsake entirely the coloniza- 
tion society and cast in his lot with the abolition- 
ists. He freed his slaves in 1834, and in the follow- 
ing year he delivered the principal address at the 
annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery 
Society held in New York. His gift of leadership 

../•^ '<t^^.^ ■'•'t 


Painting by S. F. B. Morse. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 

New York. 


er, by his un- 

( the coloniza- 

mission which 

on assigned to 
aggressii ■ 
tates to seeui>; 
'St. In V; 
iization society 
"ndered lu^ 
Ken tuck V 

,JiA It) fliij9P.i/WL; r^HoqoiisM sdi nl .98ioM*.Hvlla^ v5ffr?ifliiaiB^ 
.. +-,. - .>I'roY /rsV: 


iower in 
ut wa^ 
•b had 

)tment „ 

u the So^'f 
from a f* 

els throng 

^ plantei.^ 
. the met; 
n and, i^^^iv^ i5\Vxai\ 

ear he d< 
ill meetiap 
"ty held ?> 



was at once recognized. As vice-president of the 
society he began to travel on its behalf, to address 
public assemblies, and especially to confer with 
members of state legislatures and to address the 
legislative bodies. He now devoted his entire 
time to the service of the society, and as early as 
September, 1835, issued the prospectus of a paper 
I devoted to the cause of emancipation. This called 
j forth such a display of force against the movement 
that he could neither find a printer nor obtain the 
use of a building in Dansville, Kentucky, for the 
publication. As a result he transferred his activi- 
ties to Cincinnati, where he began publication of 
the Philanthropist in 1836. With the connivance 
of the authorities and encouragement from leading 
citizens of Cincinnati, the office of the Philanthro- 
pist was three times looted by the mob, and the 
proprietor's life was greatly endangered. The 
paper, however, rapidly grew in favor and influence 
and thoroughly vindicated the right of free dis- 
cussion of the slavery question. Another editor 
was installed when Birney, who became secretary 
of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1837, transferred 
his residence to New York City. 

Twenty-three years before Lincoln's famous 
utterance in which he proclaimed the doctrine that 


a house divided against itself cannot stand, and 
before Seward's declaration of an irrepressible con- 
flict between slavery and freedom, Birney had said : 
** There will be no cessation of conflict until slavery 
shall be exterminated or liberty destroyed. Lib- 
erty and slavery cannot live in juxtaposition." 
He spoke out of the fullness of his own experience. 
A thoroughly trained lawyer and statesman, well 
acquainted with the trend of public sentiment in 
both North and South, he was fully persuaded that 
the new pro-slavery crusade against liberty boded 
civil war. He knew that the white men in North 
and South would not, without a struggle, consent 
to be permanently deprived of their liberties at 
the behest of a few Southern planters. Being him- 
self of the slaveholding class, he was peculiarly 
fitted to appreciate their position. To him the new 
issue meant war, unless the belligerent leaders 
should be shown that war was hopeless. By his 
moderation in speech, his candor in statement, his 
lack of rancor, his carefully considered, thoroughly 
fair arguments, he had the rare faculty of convinc- 
ing opponents of the correctness of his own view. 

There could be little sympathy between Birney 
and William Lloyd Garrison, whose style of de- 
nunciation appeared to the former as an incitement 


to war and an excuse for mob violence. As soon as 
Bimey became the accepted leader in the national 
society, there was friction between his followers 
and those of Garrison. To denounce the Constitu- 
tion and repudiate political action were, from Bir- 
ney's standpoint, a surrender of the only hope of 
forestalling a dire calamity. He had always fought 
slavery by the use of legal and constitutional 
methods, and he continued so to fight. In this 
policy he had the support of a large majority of 
abolitionists in New England and elsewhere. Only 
a few personal friends accepted Garrison's injunc- 
tion to forswear politics and repudiate the Con- 

The followers of Birney, failing to secure recog- 
nition for their views in either of the political par- 
ties, organized the Liberty party and, while Birney 
was in Europe in 1840, nominated him as their 
candidate for the Presidency. The vote which he 
received was a little over seven thousand, but four 
years later he was again the candidate of the party 
and received over sixty thousand votes. He suf- 
fered an injury during the following year which con- 
demned him to hopeless invalidism and brought his 
public career to an end. 

Though Lundy and Birney were contemporaries 


and were engaged in the same great cause, they 
were wholly independent in their work. Lundy 
addressed himself almost entirely to the non-slave- 
holding class, while all of Birney's early efforts 
were those of a slaveholder seeking to induce his 
own class to support the policy of emancipation. 
Though a Northern man, Lundy found his chief 
support in the South until he was driven out by 
persecution. Birney also resided in the South until 
he was forced to leave for the same reason. The 
two men were in general accord in their main lines 
of policy : both believed firmly in the use of political 
means to effect their objects; both were at first 
colonizationists, though Lundy favored coloniza- 
tion in adjacent territory rather than by deporta- 
tion to Africa. 

Women were not a whit behind men in their 
devotion to the cause of freedom. Conspicuous 
among them were Sarah and Angelina Grimke, 
born in Charleston, South Carolina, of a slavehold- 
ing family noted for learning, refinement, and cul- 
ture. Sarah was born in the same year as James 
G. Birney, 1792; Angelina was thirteen years 
younger. Angelina was the typical crusader: her 
sympathies from the first were with the slave. As 


a child she collected and concealed oil and other 
simple remedies so that she might steal out by 
night and alleviate the sufferings of slaves who had 
been cruelly whipped or abused. At the age of 
fourteen she refused to be confirmed in the Epis- 
copal Church because the ceremony involved 
giving sanction to words which seemed to her un- 
true. Two years later her mother offered her a 
present of a slave girl for a servant and companion. 
This gift she refused to accept, for in her view the 
servant had a right to be free, and, as for her own 
needs, Angelina felt quite capable of waiting upon 

Of her own free will she joined the Presbyterian 
Church and labored earnestly with the officers of 
the church to induce them to espouse the cause of 
the slave. When she failed to secure cooperation, 
she decided that the church was not Christian and 
she therefore withdrew her membership . Her sister 
Sarah had gone North in 1821 and had become a 
member of the Society of Friends in Philadelphia. 
In Charleston, South Carolina, there was a Friends' 
meeting-house where two old Quakers still met at 
the appointed time and sat for an hour in solemn 
silence. Angelina donned the Quaker garb, joined 
this meeting, and for an entire year was the third 


of the silent worshipers. This quiet testimony, 
however, did not wholly satisfy her energetic 
nature, and when, in 1830, she heard of the im- 
prisonment of Garrison in Baltimore, she was con- 
vinced that effective labors against slavery could 
not be carried on in the South. With great sorrow 
she determined to sever her connection with home 
and family and join her sister in Philadelphia. 
There the exile from the South poured out her soul 
in an Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, 
The manuscript was handed to the officers of the 
Anti-Slavery Society in the city and, as they read, 
tears filled their eyes. The Appeal was imme- 
diately printed in large quantities for distribution 
in Southern States. 

Copies of the Appeal which had been sent to 
Charleston were seized by a mob and publicly 
burned. When it became known soon afterwards 
that the author of the offensive document was in- 
tending to return to Charleston to spend the win- 
ter with her family, there was intense excitement, 
and the mayor of the city informed the mother that 
her daughter would not be permitted to land in 
Charleston nor to communicate with any one there, 
and that, if she did elude the police and come 
ashore, she would be imprisoned and guarded until 


the departure of the next boat. On account of the 
distress which she would cause to her friends, Miss 
Grimke reluctantly gave up the exercise of her 
constitutional right to visit her native city and in 
a very literal sense she became a permanent exile. 

The two sisters let their light shine among Phila- 
delphia Quakers. In the religious meetings negro 
women were consigned to a special seat. The 
Grimkes, having first protested against this dis- 
crimination, took their own places on the seat with 
the colored women. In Charleston, Angelina had 
scrupulously adhered to the Quaker garb because 
it was viewed as a protest against slavery. In 
Philadelphia, however, no such meaning was at- 
tached to the costume, and she adopted clothing 
suited to the climate regardless of conventions. A 
series of parlor talks to women which had been or- 
ganized by the sisters grew in interest until the 
parlors became inadequate, and the speakers were 
at last addressing large audiences of women in the 
public meeting-places of Philadelphia. 

At this time when Angelina was making effective 
use of her unrivaled power as a public speaker, she 
received in 1836 an invitation from the Anti- 
Slavery Society of New York to address the women 
of that city. She informed her sister that she 


believed this to be a call from God and that it was 
her duty to accept. Sarah decided to be her com- 
panion and assistant in the work in the new field, 
which was similar to that in Philadelphia. Its 
fame soon extended to Boston, whence came an 
urgent invitation to visit that city. It was in 
Massachusetts that men began to steal into the 
women's meetings and listen from the back seats. 
In Lynn all barriers were broken down, and a 
modest, refined, and naturally diffident young 
woman found herself addressing immense audi- 
ences of men and women. In the old theater in 
Boston for six nights in succession, audiences filling 
all the space listened entranced to the messenger 
of emancipation. There is uniform testimony 
that, in an age distinguished for oratory, no more 
effective speaker appeared than Angelina Grimke. 
It was she above all others who first vindicated the 
right of women to speak to men from the public 
platform on political topics. But it must be re- 
membered that scores of other women were labor- 
ing to the same end and were fully prepared to 
utilize the new opportunity. 

The great world movement from slavery towards 
freedom, from despotism to democracy, is charac- 
terized by a tendency towards the equality of the 


sexes. Women have been slaves where men were 
free. In barbarous ages women have been ignored 
or have been treated as mere adjuncts to the ruling 
sex. But wherever there has been a distinct con- 
tribution to the cause of liberty there has been a 
distinct recognition of woman's share in the work. 
The Society of Friends was organized on the prin- 
ciple that men and women are alike moral beings, 
hence are equal in the sight of God. As a matter 
of experience, women were quite as often moved 
to break the silence of a religious meeting as were 
the men. 

For two hundred years women had been accus- 
tomed to talk to both men and women in Friends' 
meetings and, when the moral war against slavery 
brought religion and politics into close relation, 
they were ready speakers upon both topics. When 
the Grimke sisters came into the church with a 
fresh baptism of the Spirit, they overcame all ob- 
stacles and, with a passion for righteousness, moral 
and spiritual and political, they carried the war 
against slavery into politics. 

In 1833, at the organization of the American 
Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia, a number of 
women were present. Lucretia Mott, a distin- 
guished "minister" in the Society of Friends, took 


part in the proceedings. She was careful to state 
that she spoke as a mere visitor, having no place 
in the organization, but she ventured to suggest 
various modifications in the report of Garrison's 
committee on a declaration of principles which 
rendered it more acceptable to the meeting. It 
had not then been seriously considered whether 
women could become members of the Anti-Slavery 
Society, which was at that time composed exclu- 
sively of men, with the women maintaining their 
separate organizations as auxiliaries. 

The women of the West were already better 
organized than the men and were doing a work 
which men could not do. They were, for the most 
part, unconscious of any conflict between the pe- 
culiar duties of men and those of women in their 
relations to common objects. The "library asso- 
ciations" of Indiana, which were in fact effective 
anti-slavery societies, were to a large extent com- 
posed of women. To the library were added nu- 
merous other disguises, such as "reading circles," 
"sewing societies," "women's clubs." In many 
communities the appearance of men in any of these 
enterprises would create suspicion or even raise a 
mob. But the women worked on quietly, effec- 
tively, and unnoticed. 


The matron of a family would be provided with 
the best riding-horse which the neighborhood could 
furnish. Mounted upon her steed, she would sally 
forth in the morning, meet her carefully selected 
friends in a town twenty miles away, gain infor- 
mation as to what had been accomplished, give 
information as to the work in other parts of the 
district, distribute new literature, confer as to the 
best means of extending their labors, and return 
in the afternoon. The father of such a family was 
quite content with the humbler task of cooperation 
by supplying the sinews of war. There was com- 
plete equality between husband and wife because 
their aims were identical and each rendered the 
service most convenient and most needed. Women 
did what men could not do. In the territory of 
the enemy the men were reached through the 
gradual and tentative efforts of women whom the 
uninitiated supposed to be spending idle hours at 
a sewing circle. Interest was maintained by the 
use of information of the same general character as 
that which later took the country by storm in 
Uncle Tom's Cabin. In course of time all disguise 
was thrown aside. A public speaker of national 
reputation would appear, a meeting would be an- 
nounced, and a rousing abolition speech would 


be delivered; the mere men of the neighborhood 
would have little conception how the surprising 
change had been accomplished. 

On rare occasions the public presentation of 
the anti-slavery view would be undertaken pre- 
maturely, as in 1840 at Pendleton, Indiana, when 
Frederick Douglass attempted to address a public 
meeting and was almost slain by missiles from the 
mob. Pendleton, however, was not given over to 
the enemy. The victim of the assault was restored 
to health in the family of a leading citizen. The 
outrage was judiciously utilized to convince the 
fair-minded that one of the evils of slavery was the 
development of minds void of candor and justice. 
On the twenty -fifth anniversary of the Pendleton 
disturbance there was another great meeting in 
the town. Frederick Douglass was the hero of the 
occasion. The woman who was the head of the 
family that restored him to health was on the plat- 
form. Some of the men who threw the brickbats 
were there to make public confession and to apolo- 
gize for the brutal deed. 

In the minds of a few persons of rare intellectual 
and logical endowment, democracy has always im- 
plied the equality of the sexes. From the time of 
the French Revolution there have been advocates 


of this doctrine. As early as 1820, Frances Wright, 
a young woman in Scotland having knowledge of 
the Western republic founded upon the professed 
principles of liberty and equality, came to America 
for the express purpose of pleading the cause of 
equal rights for women. To the general public 
her doctrine seemed revolutionary, threatening the 
very foundations of religion and morality. In the 
midst of opposition and persecution she proclaimed 
views respecting the rights and duties of women 
which today are generally accepted as axiomatic. 

The women who attended the meetings for the 
organization of the American Anti-Slavery Society 
were not suffragists, nor had they espoused any 
special theories respecting the position of women. 
They did not wish to be members of the men's 
organizations but were quite content with their 
own separate one, which served its purpose very 
well under prevailing local conditions. James G. 
Birney, the candidate of the Liberty party for the 
Presidency in 1840, had good reasons for opposi- 
tion to the inclusion of men and women in the same 
organization. He knew that by acting separately 
they were winning their way. The introduction of 
a novel theory involving a different issue seemed to 
him likely to be a source of weakness. 


The cause of women was, however, gaining 
ground and winning converts. Lucretia Mott 
and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were delegates to 
the World's Anti-Slavery Convention at London. 
They listened to the debate which ended in the re- 
fusal to recognize them as members of the Con- 
vention because they were women. The tone of 
the discussion convinced them that women were 
looked upon by men with disdain and contempt. 
Because the laws of the land and the customs of 
society consigned women to an inferior position, 
and because there would be no place for effective 
public work on the part of women until these laws 
were changed, both these women became advo- 
cates of women's rights and conspicuous leaders in 
the initiation of the propaganda. The Reverend 
Samuel J. May, of Syracuse, New York, preached 
a sermon in 1845 in which he stated his belief that 
women need not expect to have their wrongs fully 
redressed until they themselves had a hand in the 
making and in the administration of the laws. This 
is an early suggestion that equal suffrage would 
become the ultimate goal of the efforts for righting 
women's wrongs. 

At the same time there were accessions to the 
cause from a different source. In 1833 Oberlin 


College was founded in northern Ohio. Into some 
of the first classes there women were admitted on 
equal terms with men. In 1835 the trustees offered 
the presidency to Professor Asa Mahan, of Lane 
Seminary. He was himself an abolitionist from a 
slave State, and he refused to be President of Ober- 
lin College unless negroes were admitted on equal 
terms with other students. Oberlin thus became 
the first institution in the country which extended 
the privileges of the higher education to both sexes 
of all races. It was a distinctly religious institution 
devoted to radical reforms of many kinds. Not 
only was the use of all intoxicating beverages dis- 
carded by faculty and students but the use of to- 
bacco as well was discouraged. 

Within fifteen years after the founding of Ober- 
lin, there were women graduates who had something 
to say on numerous questions of public interest. 
Especially was this true of the subject of temper- 
ance. Intemperance was a vice peculiar to men. 
Women and children were the chief sufferers, while 
men were the chief sinners. It was important, 
therefore, that men should be reached. In 1847 
Lucy Stone, an Oberlin graduate, began to address 
public audiences on the subject. At the same time 
Susan B. Anthony appeared as a temperance 

»»»» » ' ' ******* J i* »ojJaj 

* »»**» »* ii*ija»JJjJ 

,*»,»»» » i i i » i i » i i i i i » J i i J 

• ^>»»»* i i ii*ja jjjoj J 


lecturer. The manner of their reception and the na- 
ture of their subject induced them to unite heartily 
in the pending crusade for the equal rights of wo- 
men. The three causes thus became united in one. 

Along with the crusade against slavery, intem- 
perance, and women's wrongs, arose a fourth, 
which was fundamentally connected with the 
slavery question. Quakers and Southern and 
Western abolitionists were ardently devoted to the 
interests of peace. They would abolish slavery by 
peaceable means because they believed the alterna- 
tive was a terrible war. To escape an impending 
war they were nerved to do and dare and to in- 
cur great risks. New England abolitionists who 
labored in harmony with those of the West and 
South were actuated by similar motives. Sumner 
first gained public notice by a distinguished ora- 
tion against war. Garrison went farther: he was 
a professional non-resistant, a root and branch 
opponent of both war and slavery. John Brown 
was a fanatical antagonist of war until he reached 
the conclusion that according to the Divine Will 
there should be a short war of liberation in place 
of the continuance of slavery, which was itself in 
his opinion the most cruel form of war. 


Slavery as a legally recognized institution dis- 
appeared with the Civil War. The war against 
intemperance has made continuous progress and 
this problem is apparently approaching a solution. 
The war against war as a recognized institution has 
become the one all-absorbing problem of civiliza- 
tion. The war against the wrongs of women is be- 
ing supplanted by efforts to harmonize the mutual 
privileges and duties of men and women on the 
basis of complete equality. As Samuel May pre- 
dicted more than seventy years ago, in the future 
women are certain to take a hand both in the 
making and in the administration of law. 

J 1 > ) 

> 3 > > 

3 3 > 5 

3 > J 



The year 1831 is notable for three events in the 
history of the anti-slavery controversy : on the first 
day of January in that year William Lloyd Garri- 
son began in Boston the publication of the Libera- 
tor; in August there occurred in Southampton, 
Virginia, an insurrection of slaves led by a negro, 
Nat Turner, in which sixty-one white persons were 
massacred; and in December the Virginia Legisla- 
ture began its long debate on the question of 

On the part of the abolitionists there was at no 
time any sudden break in the principles which they 
advocated. Lundy did nothing but revive and 
continue the work of the Quakers and other non- 
slaveholding classes of the revolutionary period. 
Bimey was and continued to be a typical slave- 
holding abolitionist of the earlier period. Garri- 
son began his work as a disciple of Lundy, whom 


C C ' c fr i- 
« c c « c c 
< est 


he followed in the condemnation of the African 
colonization scheme, though he went farther and 
rejected every form of colonization. Garrison like- 
wise repudiated every plan for gradual emancipa- 
tion and proclaimed the duty of immediate and 
unconditional liberation of the slaves. 

The first number of the Liberator contained an 
Address to the Public y which sounded the key- 
note of Garrison's career. "I shall contend for the 
immediate enfranchisement of our slave popula- 
tion — I will be as harsh as truth and as uncom- 
promising as justice on this subject — I do not 
wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation 
— I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I 
will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard!" 

The New England Anti-Slavery Society, of 
which Garrison was the chief organizer, was in 
essential harmony with the societies which Lundy 
had organized in other sections. Its first address 
to the public in 1833 distinctly recognized the 
separate States as the sole authority in the mat- 
ter of emancipation within their own boundaries. 
Through moral suasion, eschewing all violence and 
sedition, its authors proposed to secure their ob- 
ject. In the spirit of civil and religious liberty and 
by appealing to the Declaration of Independence, 


to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, they ex- 
horted the entire people to become an effective anti- 
slavery society. At the organization of the Ameri- 
can Anti-Slavery Society a year later, the division 
of power between the separate States and the 
general Government, which found final expression 
in the platform of the Republican party in 1856, 
was recognized in its constitution, and in a declara- 
tion of principles written by Garrison himself 
occur the words : "We also maintain that there are, 
at the present time, the highest obligations resting 
upon the people of the free States to remove slavery 
by moral and political action, as prescribed in the 
Constitution of the United States." All the abo- 
litionists were united on the main lines of policy. 
In 1835 Garrison, in the Liberator, called God to 
witness that "we are not hostile to the Constitu- 
tion of the United States." It was many years 
before Garrison applied to the cause of abolition 
the peculiar doctrine of non-resistance and philo- 
sophic anarchy in such a way as to separate himself 
and his few followers from the great body of abo- 
litionists. Not until 1843 did he place at the head 
of his paper the words: "The compact which exists 
between the North and the South is a covenant 
with death and an agreement with Hell — involv- 


ing both parties in atrocious criminality and should 
be immediately annulled." Eleven years later he 
publicly burned a copy of the Constitution in the 
streets of Boston, crying aloud, **So perish all com- 
promisers with tyranny." 

In the meantime a division had arisen among 
New England abolitionists, and at the annual meet- 
ing of the national society in New York in 1840 
the opponents of Garrison withdrew and organized 
the American and "Foreign " Anti-Slavery Society. 
The disagreement arose partly from a dispute over 
the question of the admission of women to mem- 
bership, but chiefly because of Garrison's chang- 
ing attitude towards participation in politics. 
Garrison's branch retained the old name and 
was designated as the "Old Society." It was in 
fact, however, a brand-new society proclaiming 
doctrines and advocating policies in direct con- 
tradiction to those of the original organization. 
Probably not one in a hundred of even the New 
England abolitionists ever accepted the special 
views which the Garrisonian organization adopted 
after 1843. 

The facts that Garrison himself had a leading 
part in formulating the principles and policies for 
political action which received new emphasis by 


the Liberty party of 1840 and 1844, by the Free- 
soil party of 1848, and later by the Republican 
party, and that nearly all of the abolitionists con- 
tinued to be faithful adherents to those principles, 
are sufficient proof of the essential unity of the 
great anti-slavery movement. The apparent lack 
of harmony and the real confusion in the history of 
the subject arose from the peculiar character of one 
remarkable man. 

The few owners of slaves who had assumed the 
r61e of public defenders of the institution were in 
the habit of using violent and abusive language 
against anti-slavery agitators. This appeared in 
the first debate on the subject during Washington's 
administration. Every form of rhetorical abuse 
also accompanied the outbreak of mob violence 
against the reformers at the time of Garrison's 
advent into the controversy. He was especially 
fitted to reply in kind. "I am accused," said he, 
"of using hard language. I admit the charge. I 
have not been able to find a soft word to describe 
villainy, or to identify the perpetrator of it." This 
was a new departure which was instantly recog- 
nized by Southern leaders. But from the begin- 
ning to the bitter end. Garrison stands alone as 
preeminently the representative of this form of 


attack. It was significant, also, that the Liberator 
was published in Boston, the literary center of the 

There is no evidence that there was any direct 
connection between the publication of the Liberator 
and the servile insurrection which occurred dur- 
ing the following August.^ It was, however, but 
natural that the South should associate the two 
events. A few utterances of the paper were fitted, 
if not intended, to incite insurrection. One passage 
reads: "Whenever there is a contest between the 
oppressed and the oppressor — the weapons being 
equal between the parties — God knows that my 
heart must be with the oppressed, and always 
against the oppressor. Therefore, whenever com- 
menced, I cannot but wish success to all slave in- 
surrections." Again: "Rather than see men wear- 
ing their chains in a cowardly and servile spirit, I 
would, as an advocate of peace, much rather see 
them breaking the heads of the tyrant with their 

George Thompson, an English colaborer with 

^ Garrison himself denied any direct connection with the Nat 
Turner insurrection. See William Lloyd Garrison, the Story of His 
Life told by His Childreny vol. i, p. 251. 


Garrison, is quoted as saying in a public address in 
1835 that "Southern slaves ought, or at least had 
a right, to cut the throats of their masters." ^ Such 
utterances are rare, and they express a passing 
mood not in the least characteristic of the general 
spirit of the abolition movement; yet the fact that 
such statements did emanate from such a source 
made it comparatively easy for extremists of the 
opposition to cast odium upon all abolitionists. 
The only type of abolition known in South Caro- 
lina was that of the extreme Garrisonian agitators, 
and it furnished at least a shadow of excuse for 
mob violence in the North and for complete sup- 
pression of discussion in the South. To encourage 
slaves to cut the throats of their masters was far 
from being a rhetorical figure of speech in com- 
munities where slaves were in the majority. Santo 
Domingo was at the time a prosperous republic 
founded by former slaves who had exterminated 
the Caucasian residents of the island. Negroes 
from Santo Domingo had fomented insurrection 
in South Carolina. The Nat Turner incident was 
more than a suggestion of the dire possibilities 
of the situation. Turner was a trusted slave, a 

^ Schouler, History of the United States under the Constitution, vol. 
V, p. 217. 


preacher among the blacks. He succeeded in con- 
cealing his plot for weeks. When the massacre 
began, slaves not in the secret were induced to 
join. A majority of the slain were women and chil- 
dren. Abolitionists who had lived in slave States 
never indulged in flippant remarks fitted to incite 
insurrection. This was reserved for the few agita- 
tors far removed from the scene of action. 

Southern planters who had determined at all 
hazards to perpetuate the institution of slavery 
were peculiarly sensitive on account of what was 
taking place in Spanish America and in the British 
West Indies. Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, 
and united with Colombia in encouraging Cuba 
to throw off the Spanish yoke, abolish slavery, and 
join the sisterhood of New World republics. This 
led to an effective protest on the part of the United 
States. Both Spain and Mexico were advised that 
the United States could not with safety to its own 
interests permit the emancipation of slaves in the 
island of Cuba. But with the British Emancipa- 
tion Act of 1833, Cuba became the only neighboring 
territory in which slavery was legal. These acts of 
emancipation added zeal to the determination of 
the Southern planters to secure territory for the 
indefinite extension of slavery to the southwest. 


When Lundy and Birney discovered these plans, 
their desire to husband and extend the direct po- 
litical influence of abolitionists was greatly stimu- 
lated. To this end they maintained a moder- 
ate and conservative attitude. They took care 
that no abuse or misrepresentation should betray 
them into any expression which would diminish 
their influence with fair-minded, reasonable men. 
They were convinced that a clear and complete 
revelation of the facts would lead a majority 
of the people to adopt theii views. 

The debate in the Virginia Legislature in the 
session which met three months after the South- 
ampton massacre furnishes a demonstration that 
the traditional anti-slavery sentiment still persisted 
among the rulers of the Old Dominion. It arose 
out of a petition from the Quakers of the State 
asking for an investigation preparatory to a grad- 
ual emancipation of the slaves. The debate, which 
lasted for several weeks, was able and thorough. 
No stronger utterances in condemnation of slavery 
were ever voiced than appear in this debate. 
Different speakers made the statement that no one 
presumed to defend slavery on principle — that 
apologists for slavery existed but no defenders. 


Opposition to the petition was in the main apolo- 
getic in tone. 

A darker picture of the blighting effects of 
slavery on the industries of the country was never 
drawn than appears in these speeches. Slavery 
was declared to be driving free laborers from the 
State, to have already destroyed every industry 
except agriculture, and to have exhausted the soil 
so that profitable agriculture was becoming extinct, 
while pine brush was encroaching upon former 
fruitful fields. "Even the wolf, " said one, "driven 
back long since by the approach of man, now re- 
turns, after the lapse of a hundred years, to howl 
over the desolations of slavery." Contrasts be- 
tween free labor in northern industry and that of 
the South were vividly portrayed. In a speech of 
great power, one member referred to Kentucky 
and Ohio as States "providentially designated to 
exhibit in their future histories the differences 
which necessarily result from a country free from, 
and a country aflflicted with the curse of slavery." 

The debate was by no means confined to indus- 
trial or material considerations. McDowell, who 
was afterwards elected Governor of the State, thus 
portrays the personal relations of master and slave : 
"You may place the slave where you please — you 


may put him under any process, which, without 
destroying his value as a slave, will debase and 
crush him as a rational being — you may do all this, 
and the idea that he was born to be free will sur- 
vive it all. It is allied to his hope of immortality — 
it is the ethereal part of his nature which oppres- 
sion cannot reach — it is a torch lit up in his soul 
by the hand of the Deity, and never meant to be 
extinguished by the hand of man." 

Various speakers assumed that the continuance 
of slaver;y involved a bloody conflict; that either 
peaceably or through violence, slavery as contrary 
to the spirit of the age must come to an end; that 
the agitation against it could not be suppressed. 
Faulkner drew a lurid picture of the danger from 
servile insurrection, in which he referred to the 
utterances of two former speakers, one of whom 
had said that, unless something effective was done 
to ward off the danger, "the throats of all the white 
people of Virginia will be cut." The other replied, 
"No, the whites cannot be conquered — the 
throats of the blacks will be cut." Faulkner's re- 
joinder was that the difference was a trifling one, 
"for the fact is conceded that one race or the other 
must be exterminated." 

The public press joined in the debate. Leading 


editorials appeared in the Richmond Enquirer urg- 
ing that effective measures be instituted to put an 
end to slavery. The debate aroused much interest 
throughout the South. Substantially all the cur- 
rent abolition arguments appeared in the speeches 
of the slave-owning members of the Virginia Legis- 
lature. And what was done about it.^^ Nothing at 
all. The petition was not granted; no action look- 
ing towards emancipation was taken. This was 
indeed a turning-point. Men do not continue to 
denounce in public their own conduct unless their 
action results in some effort toward corrective 

Professor Thomas Dew, of the chair of history 
and metaphysics in William and Mary College and 
later President of the College, published an essay 
reviewing the debate in the Legislature and argu- 
ing that any plan for emancipation in Virginia was 
either undesirable or impossible. This essay was 
among the first of the direct pro-slavery arguments. 
Statements in support of the view soon followed. 
In 1835 the Governor of South Carolina in a mes- 
sage to the Legislature said, "Domestic slavery is 
the corner-stone of our republican edifice." Sena- 
tor Calhoun, speaking in the Senate two years 
later, declared slavery to be a positive good. 


W. G. Simms, Southern poet and novelist, writing 
in 1852, felicitates himself as being among the first 
who about fifteen years earlier advocated slavery 
as a great good and a blessing. Harriet Martineau, 
an English author who traveled extensively in the 
South in 1835, found few slaveholders who justified 
the institution as being in itself just. But after 
the debates in the Virginia Legislature, there were 
few owners of slaves who publicly advocated abo- 
lition. The spirit of mob violence had set in, 
and, contrary to the utterances of Virginia states- 
men, free speech on the subject of slavery was 
suppressed in the slave States. This did not mean 
that Southern statesmen had lost the power to per- 
ceive the evil effects of slavery or that they were 
convinced that their former views were erroneous. 
It meant simply that they had failed to agree 
upon a policy of gradual emancipation, and the 
only recourse left seemed to be to follow the ex- 
ample of James G. Birney and leave the South or 
to submit in silence to the new order. 



With the changed attitude of the South towards 
emancipation there was associated an active hos- 
tility to dearly bought human liberty. Freedom of 
speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, 
the right of assembly, trial by jury, the right of 
petition, free use of the mails, and numerous other 
fundamental human rights were assailed. Birney 
and other abolitionists who had immediate knowl- 
edge of slavery early perceived that the real ques- 
tion at issue was quite as much the continued 
liberty of the white man as it was the liberation 
of the black man and that the enslavement of one 
race involved also the ultimate essential enslave- 
ment of the other. 

In 1831 two slave States and six free States still 
extended to free negroes the right to vote. Dur- 
ing the pro-slavery crusade these privileges dis- 
appeared; and not only so, but free negroes were 



banished from certain States, or were not permitted 
to enter them, or were allowed to remain only by 
choosing a white man for a guardian. It was made 
a crime to teach negroes, whether slaves or free 
men, to read and write. Under various pretexts 
free negroes were reduced to slavery. Freedom of 
worship was denied to negroes, and they were not 
allowed to assemble for any purpose except un- 
der the strict surveillance of white men. Negro 
testimony in a court of law was invalid where 
the rights of a white man were involved. The 
right of a negro to his freedom was decided by 
an arbitrary court without a jury, while the dis- 
puted right of a white man to the ownership of 
a horse was conditioned by the safeguard of trial 
by jury. 

The maintenance of such policies carries with it 
of necessity the suppression of free discussion. 
When Southern leaders adopted the policy of 
defending slavery as a righteous institution, abo- 
litionists in the South either emigrated to the 
North or were silenced. In either case they were 
deprived of a fundamental right. The spirit of 
persecution followed them into the free States. 
Birney could not publish his paper in Kentucky, 
nor even at Cincinnati, save at the risk of his life. 


Elijah Lovejoy was not allowed to publish his 
paper in Missouri, and, when he persisted in pub- 
lishing it in Illinois, he was brutally murdered. 
Even in Boston it required men of courage and de- 
termination to meet and organize an anti-slavery 
society in 1832, though only a few years earlier 
Benjamin Lundy had traveled freely through the 
South itself delivering anti-slavery lectures and 
organizing scores of such societies. The New York 
Anti-Slavery Society was secretly organized in 1832 
in spite of the opposition of a determined mob. 
Mob violence was everywhere rife. Meetings 
were broken up, negro quarters attacked, property 
destroyed, murders committed. 

Fair-minded men became abolitionists on ac- 
count of the crusade against the rights of white 
men quite as much as from their interest in the 
rights of negroes. Salmon P. Chase of Ohio was 
led to espouse the cause by observing the attacks 
upon the freedom of the press in Cincinnati. Ger- 
rit Smith witnessed the breaking up of an anti- 
slavery meeting in Utica, New York, and there- 
after consecrated his time, his talents, and his great 
wealth to the cause of liberty. Wendell Phillips 
saw Garrison in the hands of a Boston mob, and 
that experience determined him to make common 


cause with the martyr. And the murder of Love- 
joy in 1837 made many active abolitionists. 

It is difficult to imagine a more inoffensive prac- 
tice than giving to negro girls the rudiments of 
an education. Yet a school for this purpose, taught 
by Miss Prudence Crandall in Canterbury, Con- 
necticut, was broken up by persistent persecution, 
a special act of the Legislature being passed for the 
purpose, forbidding the teaching of negroes from 
outside the State without the consent of the town 
authorities. Under this act Miss Crandall was ar- 
rested, convicted, and imprisoned. 

Having eliminated free discussion from the 
South, the Southern States sought to accomplish 
the same object in the North. In pursuance of 
a resolution of the Legislature, the Governor of 
Georgia offered a reward of five thousand dollars 
to any one who should arrest, bring to trial, and 
prosecute to conviction under the laws of Georgia 
the editor of the Liberator. R. G. Williams, publish- 
ing agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, 
was indicted by a grand jury of Tuscaloosa County, 
Alabama, and Governor Gayle of Alabama made a 
requisition on Governor Marcy of New York for 
his extradition. Williams had never been in Ala- 
bama. His offense consisted in publishing in the 


New York Emancipator a few rather mild utter- 
ances against slavery. 

Governor McDuffie of South Carolina in an offi- 
cial message declared that slavery was the very 
corner-stone of the republic, adding that the labor- 
ing population of any country, "bleached or un- 
bleached," was a dangerous element in the body 
politic, and predicting that within twenty-five 
years the laboring people of the North would be 
virtually reduced to slavery. Referring to aboli- 
tionists, he said: **The laws of every community 
should punish this species of interference with 
death without benefit of clergy." Pursuant to 
the Governor's recommendation, the Legislature 
adopted a resolution calling upon non-slaveholding 
States to pass laws to suppress promptly and effec- 
tively all abolition societies. In nearly all the slave 
States similar resolutions were adopted, and con- 
certed action against anti-slavery effort was 
undertaken. During the winter of 1835 and 1836, 
the Governors of the free States received these 
resolutions from the South and, instead of resent- 
ing them as an uncalled-for interference with the 
rights of free commonwealths, they treated them 
with respect. Edward Everett, Governor of Massa- 
chusetts, in his message presenting the Southern 


documents to the Legislature, said : "Whatever by 
direct and necessary operation is calculated to 
excite an insurrection among the slaves has been 
held, by highly respectable legal authority, an 
offense against this Commonwealth which may be 
prosecuted as a misdemeanor at common law." 
Governor Marcy of New York, in a like document, 
declared that "without the power to pass such 
laws the States would not possess all the neces- 
sary means for preserving their external relations 
of peace among themselves." Even before the 
Southern requests reached Rhode Island, the 
Legislature had under consideration a bill to sup- 
press abolition societies. 

When a committee of the Massachusetts Legis- 
lature had been duly organized to consider the 
documents received from the slave States, the abo- 
litionists requested the privilege of a hearing before 
the committee. Receiving no reply, they pro- 
ceeded to formulate a statement of their case; but 
before they could publish it, they were invited to 
appear before the joint committee of the two 
houses. The public had been aroused by the issue 
and there was a large audience. The case for the 
abolitionists was stated by their ablest speakers, 
among whom was William Lloyd Garrison. They 


labored to convince the committee that their utter- 
ances were not incendiary, and that any legislative 
censure directed against them would be an en- 
couragement to mob violence and the persecution 
which was already their lot. After the defensive 
arguments had been fully presented, William Good- 
ell took the floor and proceeded to charge upon the 
Southern States which had made these demands a 
conspiracy against the liberties of the North. In 
the midst of great excitement and many interrup- 
tions by the chairman of the committee, he quoted 
the language of Governor McDuffie's message, 
and characterized the documents lying on the 
table before him as ** fetters for Northern freemen." 
Then, turning to the committee, he began, "Mr. 
Chairman, are you prepared to attempt to put 
them on.^" — but the sentence was only half 
finished when the stentorian voice of the chairman 
interrupted him: "Sit down, sir!" and he sat 
down. The committee then arose and left the 
room. But the audience did not rise; they waited 
till other abolitionists found their tongues and gave 
expression to a fixed determination to uphold the 
liberties purchased for them by the blood of their 
fathers. The Massachusetts Legislature did not 
comply with the request of Governor McDuffie of 


South Carolina to take the first step towards the 
enslavement of all laborers, white as well as black. 
And Rhode Island refused to enact into law the 
pending bill for the suppression of anti-slavery 
societies. They declined to violate the plain re- 
quirements of their Constitution that the interests 
of slavery might be promoted. Not many years 
later they were ready to strain or break the Con- 
stitution for the sake of liberty. 

In the general crusade against liberty churches 
proved more pliable than States. The authority of 
nearly all the leading denominations was directed 
against the abolitionists. The General Conference 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church passed in 1836 
a resolution censuring two of their members who 
had lectured in favor of modern abolitionism. The 
Ohio Conference of the same denomination had 
passed resolutions urging resistance to the anti- 
slavery movement. In June, 1836, the New York 
Conference decided that no one should be chosen 
as deacon or elder who did not give pledge that 
he would refrain from agitating the church on the 

The same spirit appeared in theological semi- 
naries. The trustees of Lane Seminary, near 
Cincinnati, Ohio, voted that students should not 


organize or be members of anti-slavery societies or 
hold meetings or lecture or speak on the subject. 
Whereupon the students left in a body, and many 
of the professors withdrew and united with others 
in the founding of an anti-slavery college at Oberlin. 
A persistent attack was also directed against the 
use of the United States mails for the distribution 
of anti-slavery literature. Mob violence which in- 
volved the post-office began as early as 1830, when 
printed copies of Miss Grimke's Appeal to the Chris- 
tian Women of the South were seized and burned 
in Charleston. In 1835 large quantities of anti- 
slavery literature were removed from the Charles- 
ton office and in the presence of the assembled 
citizens committed to the flames. Postmasters on 
their own motion examined the mails and refused 
to deliver any matter that they deemed incendiary. 
Amos Kendall, Postmaster-General, was requested 
to issue an order authorizing such conduct. He 
replied that he had no legal authority to issue such 
an order. Yet he would not recommend the de- 
livery of such papers. "We owe," said he, "an 
obligation to the laws, but a higher one to the 
communities in which we live, and if the former 
be perverted to destroy the latter, it is patriotism 
to disregard them. Entertaining these views, I 


cannot sanction, and will not condemn, the step 
you have taken." This is an early instance of the 
appeal to the "higher law" in the pro-slavery con- 
troversy. The higher law was invoked against the 
freedom of the press. The New York postmaster 
sought to dissuade the Anti-Slavery Society from 
the attempt to send its publications through the 
mails into Southern States. In reply to a request 
for authorization to refuse to accept such publica- 
tions, the Postmaster-General replied: "I am de- 
terred from giving an order to exclude the whole 
series of abolition publications from the Southern 
mails only by a want of legal power, and if I 
were situated as you are, I would do as you have 

Mr. Kendall's letters to the postmasters of 
Charleston and New York were written in July 
and August, 1835. In December of the same year, 
presumably with full knowledge that a member of 
his Cabinet was encouraging violations of law in 
the interest of slavery. President Jackson under- 
took to supply the need of legal authorization. In 
his annual message he made a savage attack upon 
the abolitionists and recommended to Congress the 
"passing of such a law as will prohibit, under 
severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern 


States, through the mail, of incendiary publica- 

This part of the President's message was re- 
ferred to a select committee, of which John C. 
Calhoun was chairman. The chairman's report 
was against the adoption of the President's recom- 
mendation because a subject of such vital interest 
to the States ought not to be left to Congress. The 
admission of the right of Congress to decide what 
is incendiary, asserted the report, carries with it 
the power to decide what is not incendiary and 
hence Congress might authorize and enforce the 
circulation of abolition literature through the mails 
in all the States. The States should themselves 
severally decide what in their judgment is incen- 
diary, and then it would become the duty of the 
general Government to give effect to such state 
laws. The bill recommended was in harmony with 
this view. It was made illegal for any deputy post- 
master "to deliver to any person whatsoever, any 
pamphlet, newspaper, handbill, or other printed 
paper, or pictorial representation touching the 
subject of slavery, where by the laws of the said 
State, territory, or district their circulation is pro- 
hibited." The bill was defeated in the Senate by a 
small margin. Altogether there was an enlightening 


debate on the whole subject. The exposure of 
the abuse of tampering with the mail created a 
general reaction, which enabled the abolitionists 
to win a spectacular victory. Instead of a law for- 
bidding the circulation of anti-slavery publications, 
Congress enacted a law requiring postal officials 
under heavy penalties to deliver without dis- 
crimination all matter committed to their charge. 
This act was signed by President Jackson, and Cal- 
houn himself was induced to admit that the pur- 
poses of the abolitionists were not violent and 
revolutionary. Henceforth abolitionists enjoyed 
their full privileges in the use of the United States 

An even more dramatic victory was thrust upon 
the abolitionists by the inordinate violence of their 
opponents in their attack upon the right of peti- 
tion. John Quincy Adams, who became their 
distinguished champion, was not himself an aboli- 
tionist. When, as a member of the lower House of 
Congress in 1831, he presented petitions from cer- 
tain citizens of Pennsylvania, presumably Quakers, 
requesting Congress to abolish slavery and the 
slave-trade in the District of Columbia, he refused 
to countenance their prayer, and expressed the 
wish that the memorial might be referred without 

ll(llggpfi?yjmnf0jtjr. ■f..^:,^'%ti..i,f,t^: .fi^i. - 


Bust by Horatio Greenough. In the collection of the New York 

Historical Society. 


debat ui»r ?>uuject. The expy^uic ui 

the auuie oi lampering with the mail created a 
general reaction, which enabled the abolitionists 
to win a spectacular victory. Instea'i of a law for- 
bidding the circulation of anti-slavery ons, 
Congress enacted a law requiring po^^tai oiticials 
under heavy penalties to deliver wit dis- 
crimination all matter committed to their t-aarge. 
This act was signed by Pres 'ackson, and Cal- 
houn himself was induced t*> admit that the pur- 
poses of the iiboljiy^|t^r3^^^<g!Q^violent and 

their full privileges in .Vilis<bdMteteo<if>rtte United States 

An even more dramatic victory was thrust upon 

>olitionists by the inordinate violence of their 

lents in their attack upon the right of peti- 

John Quincy A« fcame their 

^lished champion, was not li rnself an aboli- 

When, as a member of tht h^wer House of 

'•^'<4 in 18^' ''»■' presente<l petitions from cer- 

c.^x. .x^ens of i ;. j Ivania, presumably Quakers, 

xequesting Congress to abolish slavery and the 

slave-trade in the District of C<»l^imbia, he refused 

to counti^nance their prayer, and expressed the 

wish that the memorial might be referred without 




MiTa'^mB, ji.TiiieT5c^i 


debate. At the very time when a New England 
ex-President was thus advising abolitionists to de- 
sist from sending petitions to Congress, the Vir- 
ginia Legislature was engaged in the memorable 
debate upon a similar petition from Virginia 
Quakers, in which most radical abolition sentiment 
was expressed by actual slave-owners. Adams con- 
tinued to present anti-slavery memorials and at the 
same time to express his opposition to the demands 
of the petitioners. When in 1835 there arose a 
decided opposition to the reception of such docu- 
ments, Adams, still in apparent sympathy with 
the pro-slavery South on the main issue, gave wise 
counsel on the method of dealing with petitions. 
They should be received, said he, and referred to a 
committee; because the right of petition is sacred. 
This, he maintained, was the best way to avoid 
disturbing debate on the subject of slavery. He 
quoted his own previous experience; he had made 
known his opposition to the purposes of the peti- 
tioners; their memorials were duly referred to a 
committee and there they slept the sleep of death. 
At that time only one voice had been raised in the 
House in support of the abolition petitioners, that 
of John Dickson of New York, who had delivered 
a speech of two hours in length advocating their 


cause; but not a voice was raised in reply. Mr. 
Adams mentioned this incident with approval. 
The way to forestall disturbing debate in Congress, 
he said, was scrupulously to concede all constitu- 
tional rights and then simply to refrain from speak- 
ing on the subject. 

This sound advice was not followed. For several 
months a considerable part of the time of the House 
was occupied with the question of handling aboli- 
tion petitions. And finally, in May, 1836, the 
following resolution passed the House: ''Resolved, 
That all petitions, memorials, resolutions, proposi- 
tions, or papers relating in any way or to any 
extent whatever to the subject of slavery or the 
abolition of slavery, shall, without being either 
printed or referred, be laid on the table, and that 
no further action whatever shall be had thereon." 
This is commonly known as the "gag resolution." 
During four successive years it was reenacted in 
one form or another and was not repealed by 
direct vote until 1844. 

When the name of Mr. Adams was called in the 
vote upon the passage of the above resolution, in- 
stead of answering in the ordinary way, he said: 
"I hold the resolution to be a direct violation of 
the Constitution of the United States, of the rules 


of this House, and of the rights of my constitu- 
ents." This was the beginning of the duel between 
the "old man eloquent" and a determined major- 
ity in the House of Representatives. Adams de- 
veloped undreamed-of resources as a debater and 
parliamentarian. He made it his special business 
to break down the barrier against the right of peti- 
tion. Abolitionists cooperated with zeal in the 
effort. Their champion was abundantly supplied 
with petitions. The gag resolution was designed 
to prevent all debate on the subject of slavery. Its 
effect in the hands of the shrewd parliamentarian 
was to foment debate. On one occasion, with great 
apparent innocence, after presenting the usual abo- 
lition petitions, Adams called the attention of the 
Speaker to one which purported to be signed by 
twenty -two slaves and asked whether such a peti- 
tion should be presented to the House, since he was 
himself in doubt as to the rules applicable in such a 
case. This led to a furious outbreak in the House 
which lasted for three days. Adams was threat- 
ened with censure at the bar of the House, with 
expulsion, with the grand jury, with the peniten- 
tiary; and it is believed that only his great age and 
national repute shielded him from personal violence. 
After numerous passionate speeches had been 



delivered, Adams injected a few important correc- 
tions into the debate. He reminded the House 
that he had not presented a petition purporting 
to emanate from slaves; on the contrary, he had 
expressly declined to present it until the Speaker 
had decided whether a petition from slaves was 
covered by the rule. Moreover, the petition was 
not against slavery but in favor of slavery. He 
was then charged with the crime of trifling with the 
sensibilities of the House; and finally the champion 
of the right of petition took the floor in his own de- 
fense. His language cut to the quick. His calum- 
niators were made to feel the force of his biting 
sarcasm. They were convicted of injustice, and all 
their resolutions of censure were withdrawn. The 
victory was complete. 

After the year 1838 John Quincy Adams had the 
effective support of Joshua R. Giddings from the 
Western Reserve, Ohio — who also fought a pitched 
battle of his own which illustrates another phase 
of the crusade against liberty. The ship Creole had 
sailed from Baltimore to New Orleans in 1841 with 
a cargo of slaves. The negroes mutinied on the 
high seas, slew one man, gained possession of the 
vessel, sailed to Nassau, and were there set free 
by the British Government. Prolonged diplomatic 


negotiations followed in which our Government 
held that, as slaves were property in the United 
States, they continued to be such on the high seas. 
In the midst of the controversy, Giddings intro- 
duced a resolution into the House, declaring that 
slavery, being an abridgment of liberty, could exist 
only under local rules, and that on the high seas 
there can be no slavery. For this act Giddings was 
arraigned and censured by the House. He at once 
resigned, but was reelected with instructions to 
continue the fight for freedom of debate in the 

In the campaign against the rights of freemen 
mob violence was first employed, but in the South 
the weapon of repressive legislation was soon sub- 
stituted, and this was powerfully supplemented 
by social and religious ostracism. Except in a few 
districts in the border States, these measures were 
successful. Public profession of abolitionism was 
suppressed. The violence of the mob was of much 
longer duration in the North and reached its height 
in the years 1834 and 1835. But Northern mobs 
only quickened the zeal of the abolitionists and 
made converts to their cause. The attempt to sub- 
stitute repressive state legislation had the same 
effect, and the use of church authority for making 


an end of the agitation for human liberty was only 
temporarily influential. 

As early as 1838 the Presbyterian Church was 
divided over questions of doctrine into Old School 
and New School Presbyterians. This served to 
forestall the impending division on the slavery 
question. The Old School in the South became 
pro-slavery and the New School in the North be- 
came anti-slavery. At the same time the Metho- 
dist Church of the entire country was beset by a 
division on the main question. In 1844 Southern 
Methodist Episcopalian conferences resolved upon 
separation and committed themselves to the de- 
fense of slavery. The division in the Methodist 
Church was completed in 1846. A corresponding 
division took place in the Baptist Church in 1845. 
The controversy was dividing the country into a 
free North and an enslaved South, and Southern 
white men as well as negroes were threatened 
with subjection to the demands of the dominant 



Some who opposed mob violence became active 
abolitionists; others were led to defend the rights 
of abolitionists because to do otherwise would en- 
courage anarchy and general disorder. The same 
was true of those who defended the right of peti- 
tion and the free use of the mails and the entire 
list of the fundamental rights of freemen which 
were threatened by the crusade against abolition- 
ists. Birney's contention that unless the slave is 
freed no one can be free was thus vindicated: the 
issue involved vastly more than the mere emanci- 
pation of slaves. 

The attack made in defense of slavery upon the 
rights of freemen was early recognized as involving 
civil war unless peaceable emancipation could be 
attained. So soon as John Quincy Adams faced 
the new spirit in Congress, he was convinced that 

it meant probable war. As early as May, 1836, he 



warned the South, saying: "From the instant that 
your slaveholding States become the theater of war, 
civil, servile, or foreign, from that moment the war 
powers of the Constitution extend to interference 
with the institution of slavery." This sentiment 
he reiterated and amplified on various occasions. 
The South was duly warned that an attempt to 
disrupt the Union would involve a war of which 
emancipation would be one of the consequences. 
With the exception of Garrison and a few of 
his personal followers, abolitionists were union- 
ists: they stood for the perpetual union of the 

This is not the place to give an extended account 
of the Mexican War. ^ There are, however, certain 
incidents connected with the annexation of Texas 
and the resulting war which profoundly affected 
the crusade against slavery. Both Lundy and 
Birney in their missions to promote emancipation 
through the process of colonization believed that 
they had unearthed a plan on the part of Southern 
leaders to acquire territory from Mexico for the 
purpose of extending slavery. This discovery 
coincided with the suppression of abolition propa- 
ganda in the South. Hitherto John Quincy Adams 

' See Texas and the Mexican War (in The Chronicles of America). 


had favored the western expansion of our territory. 
He had labored diligently to make the Rio Grande 
the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase 
at the time of the treaty with Spain in 1819. But 
though in 1825 he had supported a measure to 
purchase Texas from Mexico, under the new condi- 
tions he threw himself heartily against the annexa- 
tion of Texas, and in 1838 he defeated in the House 
of Representatives a resolution favoring annexa- 
tion. To this end Adams occupied the morning 
hour of the House each day from the 16th of June 
to the 7th of July, within two days of the time 
fixed for adjournment. This was only a beginning 
of his fight against the extension of slavery. There 
was no relenting in his opposition to pro-slavery 
demands until he was stricken down with paralysis 
in the streets of Boston, in November, 1846. He 
never again addressed a public assembly. But he 
continued to occupy his seat in Congress until 
February 23, 1848. 

The debate inaugurated in Congress by Adams 
and others over the extension of slave territory 
rapidly spread to the country at large, and inter- 
est in the question became general. Abolitionists 
were thereby greatly stimulated to put into prac- 
tice their professed duty of seeking to accomplish 


their ends by political action. Their first effort was 
to secure recognition in the regular parties. The 
Democrats answered in their platform of 1840 by 
a plank specifically denouncing the abolitionists, 
and the Whigs proved either noncommital or 
unfriendly. The result was that abolitionists or- 
ganized a party of their own in 1840 and nominated 
James G. Birney for the Presidency. Both of the 
older parties during this campaign evaded the issue 
of the annexation of Texas. In 1844 the Whigs 
again refrained from giving in their platform any 
oflScial utterance on the Texas issue, though they 
were understood to be opposed to annexation. 
The Democrats adroitly asserted in their platform 
their approval of the re-annexation of Texas and re- 
occupation of Oregon. There was a shadowy prior 
claim to both these regions, and by combining 
them in this way the party avoided any odious 
partiality towards the acquisition of slave terri- 
tory. But the voters in both parties had become 
interested in the specific question whether the 
country was to enter upon a war of conquest whose 
primary object should be the extension of slavery. 
In the North it became generally understood that 
a vote for Henry Clay, the Whig candidate, was an 
expression of opposition to annexation. This issue. 


however, was not made clear in the South. In the 
absence of telegraph and daily paper it was quite 
possible to maintain contradictory positions in 
different sections of the country. But since the 
Democrats everywhere openly favored annexation, 
the election of their candidate, James K. Polk, was 
generally accepted as a popular approval of the 
annexation of Texas. Indeed, action immediately 
followed the election and, before the President- 
elect had been inaugurated, the joint resolution for 
the annexation of Texas passed both Houses of 

The popular vote was almost equally divided 
between Whigs and Democrats. Had the vote 
for Birney, who was again the candidate of the 
Liberty party, been cast for Clay electors. Clay 
would have been chosen President. The Birney 
vote was over sixty-two thousand. The Liberty 
party, therefore, held the balance of power and 
determined the result of the election. 

The Liberty party has often been censured for 
defeating the Whigs at this election of 1844. But 
many incidents, too early forgotten by historians, 
go far to justify the course of the leaders. Birney 
and Clay were at one time members of the same 
party. They were personal friends, and as slave- 


holders they shared the view that slavery was a 
menace to the country and ought to be abolished. 
It was just fourteen years before this election that 
Birney made a visit to Clay to induce him to 
accept the leadership of an organized movement 
to abolish slavery in Kentucky. Three years later, 
when Birney returned to Kentucky to do himself 
what Henry Clay had refused to do, he became 
convinced that the reaction which had taken place 
in favor of slavery was largely due to Clay's in- 
fluence. This was a common impression among 
active abolitionists. It is not strange, therefore, 
that they refused to support him as a candidate 
for the Presidency, and it is not at all certain that 
his election in 1844 would have prevented the war 
with Mexico. 

Northern Whigs accused the Democrats of 
fomenting a war with Mexico with the intention 
of gaining territory for the purpose of extending 
slavery. Democrats denied that the annexation 
of Texas would lead to war, and many of them pro- 
claimed their opposition to the farther extension of 
slavery. In harmony with this sentiment, when 
President Polk asked for a grant of two million 
dollars to aid in making a treaty with Mexico, they 
attached to the bill granting the amount a proviso 


to the effect that slavery should forever be pro- 
hibited in any territory which might be obtained 
from Mexico by the contemplated treaty. The 
proviso was written by an Ohio Democrat and was 
introduced in the House by David A. Wilmot, a 
Pennsylvania Democrat, after whom it is known. 
It passed the House by a fair majority with the 
support of both Whigs and Democrats. At the 
time of the original introduction in August, 1846, 
the Senate did not vote upon the measure. Davis 
of Massachusetts moved its adoption but in- 
advertently prolonged his speech in its favor until 
the hour for adjournment. Hence there was no 
vote on the subject. Subsequently the proviso 
in a new form again passed the House but failed 
of adoption in the Senate. 

During the war the Wilmot Proviso was the 
subject of frequent debate in Congress and of con- 
tinuous debate throughout the country until the 
treaty with Mexico was signed in 1848. A vast 
territory had been acquired as a result of the war, 
and no decision had been reached as to whether it 
should remain free or be opened to settlement by 
slave-owners. Another presidential election was 
at hand. For fully ten years there had been ever- 
increasing excitement over the question of the 


limitation or the extension of slavery. This 
had clearly become the topic of supreme interest 
throughout the country, and yet the two leading 
parties avoided the issue. Their own membership 
was divided. Northern Democrats, many of them, 
were decidedly opposed to slavery extension. 
Southern Whigs with equal intensity favored the 
extension of slavery into the new territory. The 
platforms of the two parties were silent on the 
subject. The Whigs nominated Taylor, a South- 
ern general who had never voted their party 
ticket, but they made no formal declaration of 
principles. The Democrats repeated with colorless 
additions their platforms of 1840 and 1844 and 
sought to win the election with a Northern man, 
Lewis Cass of Michigan, as candidate. 

There was, therefore, a clear field for a party 
having fully defined views to express on a topic of 
commanding interest. The cleavage in the Demo- 
cratic party already begun by the debate over the 
Wilmot Proviso was farther promoted by a fac- 
tional division of New York Democrats. Martin 
Van Buren became the leader of the liberal faction, 
the "Barnburners," who nominated him for Presi- 
dent at a convention at Utica. The spirit of in- 
dependence now seized disaffected Whigs and 


Democrats everywhere in the North and North- 
west. Men of anti-slavery proclivities held non- 
partizan meetings and conventions. The move- 
ment finally culminated in the famous Buffalo 
convention which gave birth to the Free-soil party. 
The delegates of all political persuasions united 
on the one principle of opposition to slavery. They 
adopted a ringing platform closing with the words : 
'^ Resolved y That we inscribe on our banner 'Free 
Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men,' and 
under it will fight on, and fight ever, until a trium- 
phant victory shall reward our exertions." They 
accepted Van Buren as their candidate. The vote 
at the ensuing election was more than fourfold that 
given to Birney in 1844. The Van Buren support- 
ers held the balance of power between Whigs and 
Democrats in twelve States. Taylor was elected 
by the vote of New York, which except for the 
division in the party would have gone to Cass. 
There was no longer any doubt of the fact that a 
political force had arisen which could no longer be 
ignored by the ruling parties. One of the parties 
must either support the new issue or give place 
to a party which would do so. 

A political party for the defense of liberty was 
the fulfillment of the aspirations of all earnest 


anti-slavery men and of all abolitionists not of the 
radical Garrisonian persuasion. The national anti- 
slavery societies were for the most part limited in 
their operations to the Atlantic seaboard. The 
West organized local and state associations with 
little reference to the national association. When 
the disruption occurred between Garrison and his 
opponents in 1840, the Western abolitionists con- 
tinued their former methods of local organization. 
They recognized no divisions in their ranks and 
continued to work in harmony with all who in any 
way opposed the institution of slavery. The polit- 
ical party was their first really effective national 
organization. Through party committees, cau- 
cuses, and conventions, they became a part of the 
forces that controlled the nation. The older local 
clubs and associations were either displaced by the 
party or became mere adjuncts to the party. 

The lines for political action were now clearly 
defined. In the States emancipation should be 
accomplished by state action. With a few in- 
dividual exceptions the leaders conceded that Con- 
gress had no power to abolish slavery in the States. 
Upon the general Government they urged the duty 
of abolishing both slavery and the slave-trade in 
the District of Columbia and in all areas under 


direct federal control. They further urged upon 
the Government the strict enforcement of the laws 
prohibiting the foreign slave-trade and the enact- 
ment of laws forbidding the interstate slave-trade. 
The constitutionality of these main lines of action 
has been generally conceded. 

Abolitionists were pioneers in the formulation of 
political platforms. The declaration of principles 
drawn up by Garrison in 1833 and adopted by the 
American Anti-Slavery Society was of the nature 
of a political platform. The duty of voting in 
furtherance of the policy of emancipation was in- 
culcated. No platform was adopted for the first 
political campaign, that of 1840; but four years 
later there was an elaborate party platform of 
twenty -one resolutions. Many things had hap- 
pened in the eleven years intervening since the 
declaration of principles of the American Anti- 
Slavery Society. In the earlier platform the free- 
dom of the slave appears as the primary object. 
That of the Liberty party assumes the broad prin- 
ciple of human brotherhood as the foundation for a 
democracy or a republic. It denies that the party 
is organized merely to free the slave. Slaveholding 
as the grossest form of despotism must indeed be 
attacked first, but the aim of the party is to carry 


the principle of equal rights into all social relations. 
It is not a sectional party nor a party organized 
for a single purpose. "It is not a new party, nor a 
third party, but it is the party of 1776, reviving 
the principles of that memorable era, and striving 
to carry them into practical application." The 
spirit of '76 rings, indeed, throughout the docu- 
ment, which declares that it was understood at the 
time of the Declaration and the Constitution that 
the existence of slavery was in derogation of the 
principles of American liberty. The implied faith 
of the Nation and the States was pledged to 
remove this stain upon the national character. 
Some States had nobly fulfilled that pledge; others 
shamelessly had neglected to do so. 

These principles are reasserted in succeeding 
platforms. The later opponents of slavery in their 
principles and policies thus allied themselves with 
the founders of the republic. They claimed the 
. right to continue to repeat the words of Washing- 
ton and Jefferson and those of the members of the 
Virginia Legislature of 1832. No new doctrines 
were required. It was enough simply to reaffirm 
the fundamental principles of democracy. 

The names attached to the party are significant. 
It was at first popularly styled the Abolition party. 


then officially in turn the Liberty party, the Free- 
soil party, and finally the Republican party. Re- 
publican was the name first applied to the Demo- 
cratic party — the party of Jefferson. The term 
Democrat was gradually substituted under the 
leadership of Jackson before 1830. Some of the 
men who participated in the organization of the 
later Republican party had themselves been Re- 
publicans in the party of Jefferson. They not only 
accepted the name which Jefferson gave to his 
party, but they adopted the principles which Jef- 
ferson proclaimed on the subject of slavery, free 
soil, and human rights in general. This was the 
final stage in the identification of the later anti- 
slavery crusade with the earlier contest for liberty. 



The middle of the last century was marked by 
many incidents which have left a permanent im- 
press upon politics in general and upon the slavery 
question in particular. Europe was again in the 
throes of popular uprisings. New constitutions 
were adopted in France, Switzerland, Prussia, and 
Austria. Reactions in favor of autocracy in Austria 
and Germany sent multitudes of lovers of liberty 
to America. Kossuth, the Hungarian revolution- 
ist, electrified American audiences by his appeals 
on behalf of the downtrodden in Europe. Already 
the world was growing smaller. America did not 
stop at the Pacific but crossed the ocean to es- 
tablish permanent political and commercial rela- 
tions with Japan and China. 

The industries of the country were being reor- 
ganized to meet new conditions created by recent 
inventions. The electric telegraph was just coming 



into use, giving rise to a new era in communication. 
The discovery of gold in California in 1848 was 
followed by competing projects to construct rail- 
roads to the Pacific with Chicago and St. Louis as 
the rival eastern terminals. The telegraph, the 
railway, and the resulting industrial development 
proved great nationalizing influences. They served 
also to give increased emphasis to the contrast be- 
tween the industries of the free and those of the 
slave States. The Census of 1850 became an effec- 
tive anti-slavery argument. 

The telegraph also gave new life to the public 
press. The presidential campaign of 1848 was the 
last one in which it was possible to carry on con- 
tradictory arguments in support of the same can- 
didate. If slavery could not endure the test of 
untrammeled discussion when there were no means 
of rapid intercommunication such as the telegraph 
supplied, how could it contend against the revela- 
tions of the daily press with the new type of re- 
porter and interviewer which was now developed? 

It is a remarkable coincidence that in the midst 
of the passing of the old and the coming in of the 
new order there should be a change in the political 
leadership of the country. Webster, Clay, Cal- 
houn, John Quincy Adams, not to mention others, 


all died near the middle of the century, and their 
political power passed to younger men. Adams 
gave his blessing to a young friend and colaborer, 
William H. Seward of New York, intimating that 
he expected him to do much to curb the threaten- 
ing power of the slaveholding oligarchy; while 
Andrew Jackson, who died earlier, had already 
conferred a like distinction upon young Stephen A. 
Douglas. There was no lack of aspirants for the 
fallen mantles. 

John C. Calhoun continued almost to the day of 
his death to modify his interpretation of the Con- 
stitution in the interest of his section. As a young 
man he avowed protectionist principles. Becoming 
convinced that slave labor was not suited to manu- 
facture, he declared himself prepared to dissolve 
the Union rather than submit to a protective tariff. 
When his section seemed endangered by the dis- 
tribution of anti-slavery literature through the 
mail, he extemporized a theory that each State 
had a right to pass statutes to protect itself in such 
an emergency, in which case it became the duty 
of the general Government and of all other States 
to respect such laws. When it finally appeared 
that the territory acquired from Mexico was likely 
to remain free, the same statesman made further 


discoveries. He found that Congress had no right 
to exclude slavery from any Territory belonging to 
the United States; that the owners of slaves had 
equal rights with the owners of other property; 
that neither Congress nor a territorial authority 
had any power to exclude slaves from a Territory. 
This doctrine was accepted by extremists in the 
South and was finally embodied in the Dred Scott 
decision of 1857. 

Abolitionists had meantime evolved a precisely 
contradictory theory. They asserted that the Con- 
stitution gave no warrant for property in man, 
except as held under state laws; that with this 
exception freedom was guaranteed to all; that Con- 
gress had no more right to make a slave than it had 
to make a king; and that it was the duty of Con- 
gress to maintain freedom in all the Territories. 
Extremists expressed the view that all past acts 
whereby slavery had been extended were uncon- 
stitutional and therefore void. Between these 
extreme conflicting views was every imaginable 
grade of opinion. The prevailing view of op- 
ponents of slavery, however, was in harmony with 
their past conduct and maintained that Congress 
had complete control over slavery in the Territories. 

When the Mexican territory was acquired. 


Stephen A. Douglas, as the experienced chairman 
of the Committee on Territories in the Senate, was 
already developing a theory respecting slavery in 
the Territories which was destined to play a lead- 
ing part in the later crusade against slavery. 
Douglas was the most thorough-going of expan- 
sionists and would acknowledge no northern 
boundary on this side of the North Pole, no south- 
ern boundary nearer than Panama. He regarded 
the United States, with its great principle of local 
autonomy, as fitted to become eventually the 
United States of the whole world, while he held it 
to be an immediate duty to make it the United 
States of North America. As the son-in-law of a 
Southern planter in North Carolina, and as the 
father of sons who inherited slave property, Doug- 
las, although born in Vermont, knew the South as 
did no other Northern statesman. He knew also 
the institution of slavery at first hand. As a pro- 
nounced expansionist and as the congressional 
leader in all matters pertaining to the Territories, 
he acquired detailed information as to the qualities 
of these new possessions, and he spoke, therefore, 
with a good degree of authority when he said, "If 
there was one inch of territory in the whole of our 
acquisitions from Mexico where slavery could exist. 


it was in the valleys of the Sacramento and the 
San Joaquin." But this region was at once pre- 
empted for freedom upon the discovery of gold. 

Douglas did not admit that even the whole of 
Texas would remain dedicated to slavery. Some 
of the States to be formed from it would be free, 
by the same laws of climate and resources which 
determined that the entire West would remain free. 
Before the Mexican War the Senator had become 
convinced that the extension of slavery had reached 
its limit; that the Missouri Compromise was a 
dead letter except as a psychological palliative; 
that Nature had already ordained that slave labor 
should be forever excluded from all Western terri- 
tory both north and south of that line. His reply 
to Calhoun's contention that a balance must be 
maintained between slave and free States was that 
he had plans for forming seventeen new States out 
of the vast Western domains, every one of which 
would be free. And besides, said he, "we all look 
forward with confidence to the time when Dela- 
ware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, 
and probably North Carolina and Tennessee will 
adopt a gradual system of emancipation." Doug- 
las was one of the first to favor the admission 
of California as a free State. According to the 


Missouri Compromise law and the laws of Mexico, 
all Western territory was free, and he was opposed 
to interference with existing conditions. The Mis- 
souri Compromise was still held sacred. Finally, 
however, it was with Douglas's assistance that the 
Compromise measures of 1850 were passed, one 
of which provided for territorial Governments for 
Utah and New Mexico with the proviso that, when 
admitted as States, slavery should be permitted 
or prohibited as the citizens of those States should 
determine at the time. Congress refrained from 
any declaration as to slavery in the Territories. It 
was this policy of "non-intervention" which four 
years later furnished plausible excuse for the repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise. 

It was not strange that there was general ignor- 
ance in all parts of the country as to the resources 
of the newly acquired territory. The rush to the 
goldfields precipitated action in respect to Cali- 
fornia. Before General Taylor, the newly elected 
President, was inaugurated, there was imminent 
need of an efficient government. An early act of 
the Administration was to send an agent to assist 
in the formation of a state Government, and a con- 
vention was immediately called to frame a con- 
stitution. By unanimous vote of the convention, 


slavery was excluded. The constitution was ap- 
proved by popular vote and was presented to 
Congress for final acceptance in December, 1849. 

In the meantime a great commotion had arisen 
among the people. Southern state legislatures 
passed resolutions demanding that the rights of 
their peculiar institution should be recognized 
in the new Territory. Northern legislatures re- 
sponded with resolutions favoring the admission of 
California as a State and the application of the 
Wilmot Proviso to the remaining territory. North- 
ern Democrats had very generally denied that the 
affair with Mexico had as a chief purpose the ex- 
tension of slavery. Democrats therefore united 
with Whigs in maintaining the principle of free 
soil. In the South there was a corresponding fu- 
sion of the two parties in support of the sectional 

General concern prevailed as to the attitude of the 
Administration. Taylor's election had been effect- 
ed by both a Southern and a Northern split in the 
Democratic party. Northern Democrats had voted 
for the Free-soil candidate because of the alleged 
pro-slavery tendencies of their own party. South- 
ern Democrats voted for Taylor because of their 
distrust of Lewis Cass, their own candidate. Some 


of these met in convention and formally nominated 
Taylor, and Taylor accepted their nomination with 
thanks. Northern anti-slavery Whigs had a diffi- 
cult task to keep their members in line. There is 
evidence that Taylor held the traditional Southern 
view that the anti-slavery North was disposed to 
encroach upon the rights of the South. Meeting 
fewer Northern Whig supporters, he became con- 
vinced that the more active spirit of encroachment 
was in the pro-slavery South. California needed a 
state Government, and the President took the most 
direct method to supply that need. As the in- 
habitants were unanimous in their desire to exclude 
slavery, their wish should be respected. New 
Mexico was in a similar situation. As slavery was 
already excluded from the territory under Mexican 
law, and as there was no wish on the part of the 
inhabitants to introduce slavery, the President 
recognized existing facts and made no change. 
When Southern leaders projected a scheme to 
enlarge the boundaries of Texas so as to extend 
slavery over a large part of New Mexico, President 
Taylor set a guard of United States troops to main- 
tain the integrity of the Territory. When a depu- 
tation of Southern Whigs endeavored to dissuade 
him from his purpose, threatening a dissolution of 


the Union and intimating that army officers would 
refuse to act against citizens of Texas; the soldier 
President replied that in such an event he would 
take command in person and would hang any one 
caught in acts of treason. When Henry Clay in- 
troduced an elaborate project for a compromise 
between the North and the South, the President 
insisted that each question should be settled on its 
own merits and directed the forces of the Adminis- 
tration against any sort of compromise. The de- 
bate over Clay's Omnibus Bill was long and acri- 
monious. On July 4, 1850, the President seemed 
triumphant. But upon that day, notwithstanding 
his apparent robust health, he was stricken down 
with an acute disease and died five days later. 
With his passing, the opposing Whig faction came 
into power. The so-called compromise measures 
were at length one by one passed by Congress and 
approved by President Fillmore. 

California was admitted as a free State; but as a 
palliative to the South, Congress passed bills for the 
organization of territorial Governments for New 
Mexico and Utah without positive declarations re- 
garding the powers of the territorial Legislatures 
over slavery. All questions relating to title to 
slaves were to be left to the courts. Meantime it 


was left in doubt whether Mexican law excluding 
slavery was still in force. Southern malcontents 
maintained that this act was a mere hoax, using 
words which suggested concession when no con- 
cession was intended. Northern anti-slavery men 
criticized the act as the entering wedge for another 
great surrender to the enemy. Because of the un- 
certainty regarding the meaning of the law and the 
false hopes likely to be created, they maintained 
that it was fitted to foment discord and prolong 
the period of distrust between the two sections. 
At all events such was its actual effect. 

A third act in this unhappy series gave to Texas 
ten millions of dollars for the alleged surrender of 
claims to a part of New Mexico. This had little 
bearing on the general subject of compromise; yet 
anti-slavery men criticized it on the ground that 
the issue raised was insincere; that the appropria- 
tion was in fact a bribe to secure votes necessary 
to pass the other measures ; that the bill was passed 
through Congress by shameless bribery, and that 
even the boundaries conceded to Texas involved 
the surrender of free territory. 

The abolition of the slave-trade in the District of 
Columbia was supported by both sections of the 
country. The removal of the slave pens within 


sight of the Capitol to a neighboring city deprived 
the abolitionists of one of their weapons for eflFec- 
tive agitation, but it did not otherwise affect the 
position of slavery. 

Of the five acts included in the compromise 
measures, the one which provided for the return of 
fugitive slaves was most effective in the promotion 
of hostility between the two sections. During the 
six months of debate on the Omnibus Bill, numer- 
ous bills were presented to take the place of the 
law of 1793. Webster brought forward a bill which 
provided for the use of a jury to establish the valid- 
ity of a claim to an escaped slave. But that which 
was finally adopted by a worn-out Congress is 
characterized as one of the most barbarous pieces 
of legislation ever enacted by a civilized country. 
A single incident may indicate the nature of the 
act. James Hamlet, for three years a resident of 
New York City, a husband and a father and a 
member of the Methodist Church, was seized eight 
days after the law went into effect by order of the 
agent of Mary Brown of Baltimore, cut off from 
all communication with his friends, hurried before 
a commissioner, and on ex parte testimony was de- 
livered into the hands of the agent, by whom he 
was handcuffed and secretly conveyed to Baltimore. 


Mr. Rhodes accounts for the enactment in the 
following words: "If we look below the surface we 
shall find a strong impelling motive of the South- 
ern clamor for this harsh enactment other than the 
natural desire to recover lost property. Early in 
the session it took air that a part of the game of the 
disunionists was to press a stringent fugitive slave 
law, for which no Northern man could vote; and 
when it was defeated, the North would be charged 
with refusal to carry out a stipulation of the Con- 
stitution. . . . The admission of California was 
a bitter pill for the Southern ultras, but they were 
forced to take it. The Fugitive Slave Law was a 
taunt and a reproach to that part of the North 
where the anti-slavery sentiment ruled supremely, 
and was deemed a partial compensation." Clay 
expressed surprise that States from which few 
slaves escaped demanded a more stringent law 
than Kentucky, from which many escaped. 

Whatever may have been the motives leading to 
the enactment, its immediate effect was the elimi- 
nation of one of the great national parties, thus 
paving the way for the formation of parties along 
sectional lines. Two years after the passage of the 
compromise acts the Democratic national conven- 
tion assembled to nominate a candidate for the 


Presidency. The platform adopted by the party 
promised a faithful execution of the acts known 
as the compromise measures and added "the act 
for reclaiming fugitives from service or labor in- 
cluded; which act, being designed to carry out an 
express provision of the Constitution, cannot, with 
fidelity thereto, be repealed nor so changed as to 
destroy or impair its efficiency." When this was 
read, the convention broke out in uproarious ap- 
plause. Then there was a demand that it should 
be read again. Again there was loud applause. 
Why was there this demand that a law which every 
one knew had proved a complete failure should be 
made a permanent part of the Constitution.? And 
why the ungovernable hilarity over the demand 
that its "efficiency" should never be impaired? 
Surely the motive was something other than a 
desire to recover lost property. Upon the Whig 
party had been fastened the odium for the enact- 
ment of the law, and the act unrepealed meant the 
death of the party. The Democrats saw good 
reason for laughter. 



Wherever there are slaves there are fugitives if 
there is an available place of refuge. The wilds 
of Florida were such a refuge during the early 
part of last century. When the Northern States 
became free, fugitive slaves began to escape 
thither, and Canada, when it could be reached, 
was, of course, the goal of perfect security and 
liberty for all. 

A professed object of the early anti-slavery 
societies was to prevent the enslavement of free 
negroes and in other ways to protect their rights. 
During the process of emancipation in Northern 
States large numbers of colored persons were 
spirited off to the South and sold into slavery. At 
various places along the border there were those 
who made it their duty to guard the rights of ne- 
groes and to prevent kidnapping. These guard- 
ians of the border furnished a nucleus for the 



development of what was later known as the Un- 
derground Railroad. 

In 1796 President Washington wrote a letter to 
a friend in New Hampshire with reference to 
obtaining the return of a negro servant. He was 
careful to state that the servant should remain un- 
molested rather than *' excite a mob or riot or even 
uneasy sensations in the minds of well disposed 
citizens." The result was that the servant re- 
mained free. President Washington here assumed 
that "well disposed citizens" would oppose her 
return to slavery. Three years earlier the Presi- 
dent had himself signed a bill to facilitate by legal 
process the return of fugitives escaping into other 
States. He was certainly aware that such an act 
was on the statute books when he wrote his re- 
quest to his friend in New Hampshire, yet he 
expected that, if an attempt were made to re- 
move the refugee by force, riot and resistance by 
a mob would be the result. 

Not until after the foreign slave-trade had been 
prohibited and the domestic trade had been de- 
veloped, and not until there was a pro-slavery re- 
action in the South which banished from the slave 
States all anti-slavery propaganda, did the system- 
atic assistance rendered to fugitive slaves assume 


any large proportions or arouse bitter resentment. 
It began in the late twenties and early thirties of 
the nineteenth century, extended with the spread 
of anti-slavery organization, and was greatly en- 
couraged and stimulated by the enactment of the 
law of 1850. . 

The Underground Railroad was never coexten- 
sive with the abolition movement. There were 
always abolitionists who disapproved the practice 
of assisting fugitives, and others who took no part 
in it. Of those who were active participants, the 
larger proportion confined their activities to Assist- 
ing those who had escaped and would take no part 
in seeking to induce slaves to leave their masters. 
Efforts of that kind were limited to a few individ- 
uals only. ' 

Incidents drawn from the reminiscences of Levi 
CoflSn, the reputed president of the Underground 
Railroad, may serve to illustrate the origin and 
growth of the system. He was seven years old 
when he first saw near his home in North Carolina 
a coffle of slaves being driven to the Southern 
market by a man on horseback with a long whip. 
"The driver was some distance behind with the 
wagon. My father addressed the slaves pleasantly 
and then asked, *Well, boys, why do they chain 


you?' One of the men whose countenance be- 
trayed unusual intelligence and whose expression 
denoted the deepest sadness replied: 'They have 
taken us from our wives and children and they 
chain us lest we should make our escape and go 
back to them.' " When Coffin was fifteen, he ren- 
dered assistance to a man in bondage. Having an 
opportunity to talk with the members of a gang 
in the hands of a trader bound for the Southern 
market, he learned that one of the company, 
named Stephen, was a freeman who had been kid- 
napped and sold. Letters were written to North- 
ern friends of Stephen who confirmed his assertion. 
Money was raised in the Quaker meeting and men 
were sent to recover the negro. Stephen was found 
in Georgia and after six months was liberated. 

During the year 1821 other incidents occurred 
in the Quaker community at New Garden, near 
Greensboro, North Carolina, which illustrate dif- 
ferent phases of the subject. Jack Barnes was 
the slave of a bachelor who became so greatly at- 
tached to his servant that he bequeathed to him 
not only his freedom but also a large share of his 
property. Relatives instituted measures to break 
the will, and Jack in alarm took refuge among the 
Quakers at New Garden. The suit went against 


the negro, and the newspapers contained adver- 
tisements offering a hundred dollars for infor- 
mation which should result in his recovery. To 
prevent his return to bondage, it was decided that 
Jack should join a family of Coffins who were 
moving to Indiana. 

At the same time a negro by the name of Sam 
had for several months been abiding in the Quaker 
neighborhood. He belonged to a Mr. Osborne, a 
prototype of Simon Legree, who was so notoriously 
cruel that other slave-owners assisted in protecting 
his victims. After the Coffins, with Jack, had been 
on the road for a few days, Osborne learned that a 
negro was with them and, feeling sure that it was 
his Sam, he started in hot haste after them. This 
becoming known to the Friends, young Levi Coffin 
was sent after Osborne to forestall disaster. The 
descriptions given of Jack and Sam were practically 
identical and it was surmised that when Osborne 
should overtake the party and discover his mistake, 
he would seize Jack for the sake of the offered 
reward. Coffin soon came up with Osborne and 
decided to ride with him for a time to learn his 
plans. In the course of their conversation, it was 
finally agreed that Coffin should assist in the re- 
covery of Sam. Osborne was also generous and 


insisted that if it proved to be the other "nigger" 
who was with the company, Coffin should have 
half the reward. How the young Quaker out- 
witted the tyrant, gained his point, sent Jack on 
his way to liberty, and at the same time retained 
the confidence of Osborne so that upon their return 
home he was definitely engaged to assist Osborne 
in finding Sam, is a fascinating story. The abo- 
litionist won from the slaveholder the doubtful 
compliment that "there was not a man in that 

neighborhood worth a d n to help him hunt his 

negro except young Levi Coffin." 

Sam was perfectly safe so long as Levi Coffin 
was guide for the hunting-party, but matters were 
becoming desperate. For the fugitive something 
had to be done. Another family was planning to 
move to Indiana, and in their wagon Sam was to be 
concealed and thus conveyed to a free State. The 
business had now become serious. The laws of the 
State affixed the death penalty for stealing a slave. 
At night when young Coffin and his father, with 
Sam, were on their way to complete arrangements 
for the departure, horsemen appeared in the road 
near by. They had only time to throw themselves 
flat on the ground behind a log. From the con- 
versation overheard, they were assured that they 


had narrowly escaped the night-riders on the 
lookout for stray negroes. The next year, 1822, 
Coffin himself joined a party going to Indiana by 
the southern route through Tennessee and Ken- 
tucky. In the latter State they were at one time 
overtaken by men who professed to be looking for 
a pet dog, but whose real purpose was to recover 
runaway slaves. They insisted upon examining 
the contents of the wagons, for in this way only a 
short time previous a fugitive had been captured. 
These incidents show the origin of the system. 
The first case of assistance rendered a negro was 
not in itself illegal, but was intended merely to 
prevent the crime of kidnapping. The second was 
illegal in form, but the aid was given to one who, 
having been set free by will, was being reenslaved, 
it was believed, by an unjust decision of a court. 
The third was a case of outrageous abuse on the 
part of the owner. The negro Sam had himself 
gone to a trader begging that he would buy him 
and preferring to take his chances on a Mississippi 
plantation rather than return to his master. The 
trader offered the customary price and was met 
with the reply that he could have the rascal if he 
would wait until after the enraged owner had 
taken his revenge, otherwise the price would be 


twice the amount offered. A large proportion of 
the fugitives belonged to this maltreated class. 
Others were goaded to escape by the prospect of 
deportation to the Gulf States. The fugitives 
generally followed the beaten line of travel to the 
North and West. 

In 1826 Levi Coffin became a merchant in New- 
port, Indiana, a town near the Ohio line not far 
from Richmond. In the town and in its neigh- 
borhood lived a large number of free negroes who 
were the descendants of former slaves whom North 
Carolina Quakers had set free and had colonized 
in the new country. Coffin found that these blacks 
were accustomed to assist fugitives on their way 
to Canada. When he also learnt that some had 
been captured and returned to bondage merely 
through lack of skill on the part of the negroes, 
he assumed active operations as a conductor on 
the Underground Railroad. 

Coffin used the Underground Railroad as a means 
of making converts to the cause. One who be- 
rated him for negro-stealing was adroitly induced 
to meet a newly arrived passenger and listen to his 
pathetic story. At the psychological moment the 
objector was skillfully led to hand the fugitive a 
dollar to assist him in reaching a place of safety. 


Coffin then explained to this benevolent non-abo- 
litionist the nature of his act, assuring him that 
he was liable to heavy damages therefor. The 
reply was in this case more forcible than elegant: 
"Damn it! You've got me !" This conversion he 
publicly proclaimed for the sake of its influence 
upon others. Many were the instances in which 
those of supposed pro-slavery convictions were 
brought face to face with an actual case of the 
threatened reenslavement of a human being escap- 
ing from bondage and were, to their own surprise, 
overcome by the natural, humane sentiment which 
asserted itself. For example, a Cincinnati mer- 
chant, who at the time was supposed to be assist- 
ing one of his Southern customers to recover an 
escaped fugitive, was confronted at his own home 
by the poor half -starved victim. Yielding to the 
impulse of compassion, he gave the slave food 
and personal assistance and directed the destitute 
creature to a place of refuge. 

The division in the Quaker meeting in Indiana 
with which Levi Coffin was intimately associated 
may serve to exemplify a corresponding attitude 
in other churches on the question of slavery. The 
Quakers availed themselves of the first great anti- 
slavery movement to rid themselves completely of 


the burden. Their Society itself became an anti- 
slavery organization. Yet even so the Friends had 
differences of opinion as to fit methods of action. 
Not only did many of them disapprove of rendering 
aid to fugitives but they also objected to the use of 
the meeting-houses for anti-slavery lectures. The 
formation of the Liberty party served to accentu- 
ate the division. The great body of the Friends 
were anti-slavery Whigs. 

A crisis in the affairs of the Society of Friends in 
the State of Indiana was reached in 1843 when the 
radicals seceded and organized an independent 
"Anti-Slavery Friends Society." Immediately 
there appeared in numerous localities duplicate 
Friends' meeting-houses. In and around one of 
these, distinguished as "Liberty Hall," were 
gathered those whose supreme religious interest 
was directed against the sin of slavery. Never was 
there a church division which involved less bad 
blood or sense of injury or injustice. Members of 
the same family attended separate churches with- 
out the least difference in their cordial relations. 
No important principle was involved; there were 
apparently good reasons for both lines of policy, 
and each party understood and respected the 
other's position. After the adoption of the 


Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and the passing of the 
Whig party, these differences disappeared, the 
separate organization was disbanded, and all 
Friends' meeting-houses became "liberty halls." 

The disposition to aid the fugitive was by no 
means confined to the North nor to Quakers in the 
South. Richard Dillingham, a young Quaker who 
had yielded to the solicitations of escaped fugitives 
in Cincinnati and had undertaken a mission to 
Nashville, Tennessee, to rescue their relatives from 
a "hard master," was arrested with three stolen 
slaves on his hands. He made confession in open 
court and frankly explained his motives. The 
Nashville Daily Gazette of April 13, 1849, has words 
of commendation for the prisoner and his family 
and states that "he was not without the sympathy 
of those who attended the trial." Though Dilling- 
ham committed a crime to which the death penalty 
was attached in some of the States, the jury aflSxed 
the minimum penalty of three years' imprisonment 
for the offense. As Nashville was far removed from 
Quaker influence or any sort of anti-slavery propa- 
ganda, Dillingham was himself astonished and was 
profoundly grateful for the leniency shown him by 
Court, jury, and prosecutors. This incident oc- 
curred in the year before the adoption of the 


Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. It is well known 
that in all times and places which were free from 
partizan bitterness there was a general natural 
sympathy for those who imperiled their life and 
liberty to free the slave. Throughout the South 
men of both races were ready to give aid to slaves 
seeking to escape from dangers or burdens which 
they regarded as intolerable. While such a man 
as Frederick Douglass, when still a slave, was an 
agent of the Underground Railroad, Southern anti- 
slavery people themselves were to a large extent 
the original projectors of the movement. Even 
members of the families of slaveholders have been 
known to assist fugitives in their escape to the 

The fugitives traveled in various ways which 
were determined partly by geographical conditions 
and partly by the character of the inhabitants of 
a region. On the Atlantic coast, from Florida to 
Delaware, slaves were concealed in ships and were 
thus conveyed to free States. Thence some made 
their way towards Canada by steamboat or rail- 
road, though most made the journey on foot or, 
less frequently, in private conveyances. Stalwart 
slaves sometimes walked from the Gulf States to 
the free States, traveling chiefly by night and 


guided by the North Star. Having reached a free 
State, they found friends among those of their own 
race, or were taken in hand by officers of the Under- 
ground Railroad and were thus helped across the 
Canadian border. 

From the seacoast the valley of the Connecticut 
River furnished a convenient route for completing 
the journey northward, though the way of the 
fugitives was often deflected to the Lake Cham- 
plain region. In later years, when New England 
became generally sympathetic, numerous lines of 
escape traversed that entire section. Other courses 
extended northward from the vicinity of Phila- 
delphia, Delaware, and Maryland. Here, through 
the center of American Quaker dom, all conditions 
favored the escape of fugitives, for slavery and 
freedom were at close quarters. The activities of 
the Quakers, who were at first engaged merely in 
preventing the reenslavement of those who had a 
legal right to freedom, naturally expanded until 
aid was given without reservation to any fugi- 
tive. From Philadelphia as a distributing point 
the route went by way of New York and the 
Hudson River or up the river valleys of eastern 
Pennsylvania through western New York. 

In addition to the routes to freedom which the 


seacoast and river valleys afforded, the Appala- 
chian chain of mountains formed an attractive high- 
way of escape from slavery/ though these mountain 
paths lead us to another branch of our subject 
not immediately connected with the Underground 
Railroad — the escape from bondage by the initia- 
tive of the slaves themselves or by the aid of their 
own people. Mountains have always been a refuge 
and a defense for the outlaw, and the few dwellers 
in this almost unknown wilderness were not in- 
frequently either indifferent or friendly to the 
fugitives. The escaped slaves might, if they chose, 
adopt for an indefinite time the free life of the hills; 
but in most cases they naturally drifted northward 
for greater security until they found themselves 
in a free State. Through the mountainous regions 
of Virginia many thus escaped, and they were in- 
duced to remain there by the example and advice 
of residents of their own color. The negroes them- 
selves excelled all others in furnishing places of 
refuge to fugitives from slavery and in concealing 
their status. For this reason John Brown and his 
associates were influenced to select this region for 
their great venture in 1859. 

But there were other than geographical con- 
ditions which helped to determine the direction 


of the lines of the Underground Railroad. West 
of the Alleghanies are the broad plains of the 
Mississippi Valley, and in this great region hu- 
man elements rather than physical characteristics 
proved influential. Northern Ohio was occupied 
by settlers from the East, many of whom were anti- 
slavery. Southern Ohio was populated largely by 
Quakers and other people from the slave States 
who abhorred slavery. On the east and south the 
State bordered on slave territory, and every part 
of the region was traversed by lines of travel for the 
slave. In eastern and northern Indiana a favor- 
able attitude prevailed. Southwestern Indiana, 
however, and southern Illinois were occupied by 
those less friendly to the slave, so that in these 
sections there is little evidence of systematic aid 
to fugitives. But with St. Louis, Missouri, as 
a starting-point, northern Illinois became honey- 
combed with refuges for patrons of the Under- 
ground Railroad. The negro also found friends in 
all the settled portions of Iowa, and at the out- 
break of the Civil War a lively traffic was being 
developed, extending from Lawrence, Kansas, to 
Keokuk, Iowa. 

There is respectable authority for a variety of 
opinions as to the requirements of the rendition 


clause in the Constitution and of the Act of Con- 
gress of 1793 to facilitate the return of fugitives 
from service or labor; but there is no respectable 
authority in support of the view that neither the 
spirit nor the letter of the law was violated by the 
supporters of the Underground Railroad. This 
was a source of real weakness to anti-slavery 
leaders in politics. It was always true that only 
a small minority of their numbers were actual vio- 
lators of the law, yet such was their relation to 
the organized anti-slavery movement that responsi- 
bility attached to all. The platform of the Liberty 
party for 1844 declared that the provisions of the 
Constitution for reclaiming fugitive slaves were 
dangerous to liberty and ought to be abrogated. 
It further declared that the members of the party 
would treat these provisions as void, because they 
involved an order to commit an immoral act. The 
platform thus explicitly committed the party to 
the support of the policy of rendering aid to fugi- 
tive slaves. Four years later the platform of the 
Free-soil party contained no reference whatever 
to fugitive slaves, but that of 1852 denounced the 
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as repugnant to the 
Constitution and the spirit of Christianity and 
denied its binding force on the American people. 


The Republican platform of 1856 made no refer- 
ence to the subject. 

The Underground Railroad filled an insignifi- 
cant place in the general plan for emancipation, 
even in the minds of the directors. It was a lesser 
task preparatory to the great work. As to the 
numbers of slaves who gained their freedom by 
means of it, there is a wide range of opinion. State- 
ments in Congress by Southern members that a 
hundred thousand had escaped must be regarded 
as gross exaggerations. In any event the loss was 
confined chiefly to the border States. Besides, it 
has been stated with some show of reason that 
the danger of servile insurrection was diminished 
by the escape of potential leaders. 

From the standpoint of the great body of anti- 
slavery men who expected to settle the slavery 
question by peaceable means, it was a calamity of 
the first magnitude that, just at the time when 
conditions were most favorable for transferring the 
active crusade from the general Government to the 
separate States, public attention should be directed 
to the one point at which the conflict was most 
acute and irrepressible. 

Previous to 1850 there had been no general 
acrimonious debate in Congress on the rendition of 


fugitive slaves. About half of those who had pre- 
viously escaped from bondage had not taken the 
trouble to go as far as Canada, but were living at 
peace in the Northern States. Few people at the 
North knew or cared anything about the details 
of a law that had been on the statute books since 
1793. Members of Congress were duly warned of 
the dangers involved in any attempt to enforce a 
more stringent law than the previous act which had 
proved a dead letter. To those who understood 
the conditions, the new law also was doomed to 
failure. So said Senator Butler of South Carolina. 
An attempt to enforce it would be met by violence. 
This prediction came true. The twenty thou- 
sand potential victims residing in Northern States 
were thrown into panic. Some rushed off to Can- 
ada; others organized means for protection. A 
father and son from Baltimore came to a town in 
Pennsylvania to recover a fugitive. An alarm was 
sounded; men, mostly colored, rushed to the pro- 
tection of the one whose liberty was threatened. 
Two Quakers appeared on the scene and warned 
the slave-hunters to desist and upon their refusal 
one slave-hunter was instantly killed and the other 
wounded. The fugitive was conveyed to a place 
of safety, and to the murderers no punishment was 


meted out, though the general Government made 
strenuous efforts to discover and punish them. In 
New York, though Gerrit Smith and a local clergy- 
man with a few assistants rescued a fugitive from 
the officers of the law and sent him to Canada, 
openly proclaiming and justifying the act, no 
attempt was made to punish the offenders. 

After a dozen years of intense and ever-increas- 
ing excitement, when other causes of friction be- 
tween North and South had apparently been re- 
moved and good citizens in the two sections were 
rejoicing at the prospect of an era of peace and 
harmony, public attention was concentrated upon 
the one problem of conduct which would not admit 
of peaceable legal adjustment. Abolitionists had 
always been stigmatized as lawbreakers whose aim 
was the destruction of slavery in utter disregard 
of the rights of the States. This charge was ab- 
solutely false; their settled program involved full 
recognition of state and municipal control over 
slavery. Yet after public attention had become 
fixed upon conduct on the part of the abolitionists 
which was illegal, it was difficult to escape the im- 
plication that their whole course was illegal. This 
was the tragic significance of the Fugitive Slave 
Act of 1850. 



Whittier offered up "thanks for the fugitive slave 
law; for it gave occasion for Uncle Tom^s Cabin" 
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe had been mistress of 
a station on the Underground Railroad at Cin- 
cinnati, the storm-center of the West, and out of 
her experience she has transmitted to the world a 
knowledge of the elemental and tragic human ex- 
periences of the slaves which would otherwise have 
been restricted to a select few. The mistress of a 
similar station in eastern Indiana, though she held 
novel reading a deadly sin, said: '^ Uncle Tom's 
Cabin is not a novel, it is a record of facts . I myself 
have listened to the same stories." The reading 
public in all lands soon became sympathetic par- 
ticipants in the labors of those who, in defiance of 
law, were lending a hand to the aspirants for liberty. 
At the time of the publication of the story in 
book form in March, 1852, America was being 



profoundly stirred by the stories of fugitives who 
had escaped from European despotism. Mrs. Stowe 
refers to these incidents in her question: "When 
despairing Hungarian fugitives make their way, 
against all the search-warrants and authorities 
of their lawful governments to America, press and 
political cabinet ring with applause and welcome. 
When despairing African fugitives do the same 
thing — it is — what is it.? " Little did she think 
that when the eloquence of the Hungarian refugee 
had been forgotten, the story of Eliza and Uncle 
Tom would ring throughout the world. 

The book did far more than vindicate the con- 
duct of those who rendered assistance to the fugi- 
tive from slavery; it let in daylight upon the essen- 
tial nature of slavery. Humane and just masters 
are shown to be forced into participation in acts 
which result in intolerable cruelty. Full justice 
is done to the noble and admirable character of 
Southern slave-owners. The author had been a 
guest in the home of the "Shelbys," in Kentucky. 
She had taken great pains to understand the South- 
ern point of view on the subject of slavery; she had 
entered into the real trials and difficulties involved 
in any plan of emancipation. St. Clair, speaking 
to Miss Ophelia, his New England cousin, says; 


If we emancipate, are you willing to educate? How 
many families of your town would take in a negro man 
or woman, teach them, bear with them, and seek to 
make them Christians? How many merchants would 
take Adolph, if I wanted to make him a clerk; or 
mechanics, if I wanted to teach him a trade? If I 
wanted to put Jane and Rosa to a school, how many 
schools are there in the Northern States that would 
take them in? How many families that would board 
them? and yet they are as white as many a woman 
north or south. You see, cousin, I want justice done 
us. We are in a bad position. We are the more obvious 
oppressors of the negro; but the unchristian prejudice 
of the north is an oppressor almost equally severe. 

Throughout the book the idea is elaborated in 
many ways. Miss Ophelia is introduced for the 
purpose of contrasting Northern ignorance and 
New England prejudice with the patience and 
forbearance of the better class of slave-owners of 
the South. The genuine affection of an unspoiled 
child for negro friends is made especially emphatic. 
Miss Ophelia objected to Eva's expressions of de- 
votion to Uncle Tom. Her father insists that his 
daughter shall not be robbed of the free utterance 
of her high regard, observing that ''the child is the 
only true democrat." There is only one Simon 
Legree in the book, and he is of New England ex- 
traction. The story is as distinctly intended to 


inform Northern ignorance and to remove North- 
ern prejudice as it is to justify the conduct of 

What was the effect of the publication ? In Euro- 
pean countries far removed from local, partizan 
prejudice, it was immediately received as a great 
revelation of the spirit of liberty. It was trans- 
lated into twenty-three different languages. So 
devoted were the Italians to the reading of the 
story that there was earnest effort to suppress its 
circulation. As a drama it proved a great success, 
not only in America and England but in France 
and other countries as well. More than a million 
copies of the story were sold in the British Empire. 
Lord Palmerston avers that he had not read a 
novel for thirty years, yet he read Uncle Tom's 
Cabin three times and commended the book for the 
statesmanship displayed in it. 

What is in the story to call forth such commen- 
dation from the cold-blooded English statesman .'^ 
The book revealed, in a way fitted to carry convic- 
tion to every unprejudiced reader, the impossi- 
bility of uniting slavery with freedom under the 
same Government. Either all must be free or the 
mass subject to the few — or there is actual war. 
This principle is finely brought out in the predica- 


ment of the Quaker confronted by a fugitive with 
wife and child who had seen a sister sold and con- 
veyed to a life of shame on a Southern plantation. 
"Am I going to stand by and see them take my wife 
and sell her?" exclaimed the negro. "No, God 
help me! I'll fight to the last breath before they 
shall take my wife and son. Can you blame me.^ " 
To which the Quaker replied: "Mortal man can- 
not blame thee, George. Flesh and blood could not 
do otherwise. 'Woe unto the world because of of- 
fences but woe unto them through whom the of- 
fence cometh.' " "Would not even you, sir, do the 
same, in my place .^^ " "I pray that I be not tried." 
And in the ensuing events the Quaker played an 
important part. 

Laws enacted for the protection of slave prop- 
erty are shown to be destructive of the fundamen- 
tal rights of freemen; they are inhuman. The Ohio 
Senator, who in his lofty preserve at the capital of 
his country could discourse eloquently of his readi- 
ness to keep faith with the South in the matter of 
the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, 
becomes, when at home with his family, a flagrant 
violator of the law. Elemental human nature is 
pitted against the apparent interests of a few in- 
dividual slave-owners. 


The story of Uncle Tom placed all supporters of 
the new law on the defensive. It was read by all 
classes North and South. Uncle Tom's Cabin as it 
is was called forth from the South as a reply to 
Mrs. Stowe's book, and there ensued a general dis- 
cussion of the subject which was on the whole en- 
lightening. Yet the immediate political effect of 
the publication was less than might have been ex- 
pected from a book so widely read and discussed. 
Its appearance early in the decade did not pre- 
vent the apparent pro-slavery reaction already 
described. But Mr. Rhodes calls attention to the 
different impression which the book made upon 
adults and boys. Hardened sinners in partizan 
politics could read the book, laugh and weep over 
the passing incidents, and then go on as if nothing 
had happened. Not so with the thirteen-year-old 
boy. He never could be the same again. The Re- 
publican party of 1860 was especially successful 
in gaining the first vote of the youthful citizen 
and undoubtedly owed much of its influence to 
Uncle Tom's Cabin. 

Two lines of attack were rapidly rendering im- 
possible the continuance of slavery in the United 
States. Mrs. Stowe gave effective expression to 
the moral, religious, and humanitarian sentiment 


against slavery. In the year in which her work 
was published, Frederick Law Olmsted began his 
extended journeys throughout the South. He 
represents the impartial scientific observer. His 
books were published during the years 1856, 1857, 
and 1861. They constitute in their own way an 
indictment against slavery quite as forcible as 
that of Uncle Tom's Cabiuy but an indictment that 
rests chiefly upon the blighting influence of the 
institution of slavery upon agriculture, manufac- 
tures, and the general industrial and social order. 
The crisis came too soon for these publications 
to have any marked effect upon the issue. Their 
appeal was to the deliberate and thoughtful reader, 
and political control had already drifted into the 
hands of those who were not deliberate and 

In 1857, however, there appeared a book which 
did exert a marked influence upon immediate politi- 
cal issues. There is no evidence that Hinton Rowan 
Helper, the author of The Impending Crisis, had 
any knowledge of the writings of Olmsted; but he 
was familiar with Northern anti-slavery literature. 
" I have considered my subject more particularly," 
he states in his preface, **with reference to its 
economic aspects as regards the whites — not with 


reference, except in a very slight degree, to its 
humanitarian or religious aspects. To the latter 
side of the question. Northern writers have already 
done full and timely justice. ... Yankee wives 
have written the most popular anti-slavery litera- 
ture of the day. Against this I have nothing to say; 
it is all well enough for women to give the fictions 
of slavery; men should give the facts." He denies 
that it had been his purpose to cast unmerited 
opprobium upon slaveholders; yet a sense of per- 
sonal injury breathes throughout the pages. If he 
had no intention of casting unmerited opprobrium 
upon slaveholders, it is difficult to imagine what 
language he could have used if he had undertaken 
to pass the limit of deserved reprobation. In this 
regard the book is quite in line with the style of 
Southern utterance against abolitionists. 

Helper belonged to a slaveholding family, for 
a hundred years resident in the Carolinas. The 
dedication is significant. It is to three personal 
friends from three slave States who at the time 
were residing in California, in Oregon, and in Wash- 
ington Territory, "and to the non-slaveholding 
whites of the South generally, whether at home or 
abroad." Out of the South had come the inspira- 
tion for the religious and humanitarian attack 


upon slavery. From the same source came the call 
for relief of the poverty-stricken white victims of 
the institution. 

Helper's book revived the controversy which had 
been forcibly terminated a quarter of a century 
before. He resumes the argument of the mem- 
bers of the Virginia legislature of 1832. He re- 
prints extended selections from that memorable 
debate and then, by extended references to later 
official reports, points out how slavery is impover- 
ishing the South. The South is shown to have 
continuously declined, while the North has made 
immense gains. In a few years the relation of the 
South to the North would resemble that of Poland 
to Russia or of Ireland to England. The author 
sees no call for any arguments against slavery as 
an economic system; he would simply bring the 
earlier characterization of the situation down to 

Helper differs radically from all earlier speakers 
and writers in that he outlines a program for 
definite action. He estimates that for the entire 
South there are seven white non-slaveholders for 
every three slaveholders. He would organize these 
non-slaveholding whites into an independent po- 
litical party and would hold a general convention of 


non-slaveholders from every slave State to adopt 
measures to restrain "the diabolical excesses of 
the oligarchy" and to annihilate slavery. Slave- 
holders should be entirely excluded from any share 
in government. They should be treated as crimi- 
nals ostracized from respectable society. He is 
careful to state, however, that by slaveholder he 
does not mean such men as Benton of Missouri and 
many others throughout the slave States who re- 
tain the sentiments on the slavery question of the 
"immortal Fathers of the Republic." He has in 
mind only the new order of owners, who have de- 
termined by criminal methods to inflict the crime 
of slavery upon an overwhelming majority of their 
white fellow-citizens. 

The publication of The Impending Crisis created 
a profound sensation among Southern leaders. So 
long as the attack upon the peculiar institution 
emanated from the North, the defenders had the 
full benefit of local prejudice and resentment 
against outside intrusion. Helper was himself a 
thorough-going believer in state rights. Slavery 
was to be abolished, as he thought, by the action 
of the separate States. Here he was in accord with 
Northern abolitionists. If such literature as Help- 
er's volume should find its way into the South, it 


would be no longer possible to palm off upon the 
unthinking public the patent falsehood that abo- 
litionists of the North were attempting to im- 
pose by force a change in Southern institutions. 
All that Southern abolitionists ever asked was 
the privilege of remaining at home in their own 
South in the full exercise of their constitutional 

Southern leaders were undoubtedly aware of the 
concurrent publications of travelers and newspaper 
reporters, of which Olmsted's books were conspicu- 
ous examples. Olmsted and Helper were both 
sources of proof that slavery was bringing the 
South to financial ruin. The facts were getting 
hold of the minds of the Southern people. The 
debate which had been adjourned was on the eve 
of being resumed. Complete suppression of the 
new scientific industrial argument against slavery 
seemed to slave-owners to furnish their only 

The Appalachian ranges of mountains drove a 
wedge of liberty and freedom from Pennsylvania 
almost to the Gulf. In the upland regions slavery 
could not flourish. There was always enmity be- 
tween the planters of the coast and the dwellers 
on the upland. The slaveholding oligarchy had 


always ruled, but the day of the uplanders was at 
hand. This is the explanation of the veritable 
panic which Helper's publication created. A de- 
bate which should follow the line of this old divi- 
sion between the peoples of the Atlantic slave 
States would, under existing conditions, be fatal 
to the institution of slavery. West Virginia did 
become a free State at the first opportunity. Coun- 
ties in western North Carolina claim to have 
furnished a larger proportion of their men to the 
Union army than any other counties in the coun- 
try. Had the plan for peaceable emancipation 
projected by abolitionists been permitted to take 
its course, the uplands of South Carolina would 
have been pitted against the lowlands, and Sena- 
tor Tillman would have appeared as a rampant 
abolitionist. There might have been violence, but 
it would have been confined to limited areas in the 
separate States. Had the crisis been postponed, 
there surely would have been a revival of aboli- 
tionism within the Southern States. Slavery in 
Missouri was already approaching a crisis. South- 
ern leaders had long foreseen that the State would 
abolish slavery if a free State should be established 
on the western boundary. This was actually tak- 
ing place. Kansas was filling up with free-state 


settlers and, by the act of its own citizens, a few 
years later did abolish slavery. 

Republicans naturally made use of Helper's 
book for party purposes. A cheap abridged edi- 
tion was brought out. Several Republican leaders 
were induced to sign their names to a paper com- 
mending the publication. Among these was John 
Sherman of Ohio, who in the organization of the 
newly elected House of Representatives in 1859 
was the leading candidate of the Republicans for 
the speakership. During the contest the fact that 
his name was on this paper was made public, and 
Southern leaders were furious. Extracts were read 
to prove that the book was incendiary. Millson 
of Virginia said that "one who consciously, de- 
liberately, and of purpose lends his name and in- 
fluence to the propagation of such writings is not 
only not fit to be speaker, but he is not fit to live." 
It is one of the ironies of the situation that the 
passage selected to prove the incendiary character 
of the book is almost a literal quotation from the 
.debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1832. 


"bleeding Kansas" 

Both the leading political parties were, in the 
campaign of 1852, fully committed to the accept- 
ance of the so-called Compromise of 1850 as a final 
settlement of the slavery question; both were com- 
mitted to the support of the Fugitive Slave Act. 
The Free-soil party, with John P. Hale as its can- 
didate, did make a vigorous attack upon the Fu- 
gitive Slave Act, and opposed all compromises 
respecting slavery, but Free-soilers had been to a 
large extent reabsorbed into the Democratic party, 
their vote of 1852 being only about half that of 
1848. Though the Whig vote was large and only 
about two hundred thousand less than that of the 
Democrats, yet it was so distributed that the 
Whigs carried only four States, Massachusetts, 
Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The other 
States gave a Democratic plurality. 

Had there been time for readjustment, the Whig 



party might have recovered lost ground, but no 
time was permitted. There was in progress in 
Missouri a political conflict which was already 
commanding national attention. Thomas H. Ben- 
ton, for thirty years a Senator from Missouri, and 
a national figure, was the storm-center. His ene- 
mies accused him of being a Free-soiler, an aboli- 
tionist in disguise. He was professedly a stanch 
and uncompromising unionist, a personal and 
political opponent of John C. Calhoun. Accord- 
ing to his own statement he had been opposed to 
the extension of slavery since 1804, although he 
had advocated the admission of Missouri with a 
pro-slavery constitution in 1820. He was, from 
the first, senior Senator from the State, and by 
a peculiar combination of influences incurred his 
first defeat for reelection in 1851. 

Benton's defeat in the Missouri Legislature was 
largely the result of national pro-slavery influences. 
In a former chapter, reference was made to the 
Ohio River as furnishing a "providential argument 
against slavery." The Mississippi River as the 
eastern boundary of Missouri furnished a like 
argument, but on the north not even a prairie 
brook separated free labor in Iowa from slave labor 
in Missouri. The inhabitants of western Missouri, 



realizing that the tenure of their peculiar institu- 
tion was becoming weaker in the east and north, 
early became convinced that the organization of 
a free State along their western boundary would 
be followed by the abolition of slavery in their 
own State. This condition attracted the attention 
of the national guardians of pro-slavery interests. 
Calhoun, Davis, Breckinridge, Toombs, and others 
were in constant communication with local leaders. 
A certain Judge W. C. Price, a religious fanatic, and 
a pro-slavery devotee, was induced to visit every 
part of the State in 1844, calling the attention of all 
slaveholders to the perils of the situation and pre- 
paring the way for the repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise. Senator Benton, who was approached on 
the subject, replied in such a way that all radical 
defenders of slavery, both national leaders and 
local politicians, were moved to unite for his 
political defeat. 

David R. Atchison, junior Senator from Mis- 
souri, had been made the leader of the pro-slavery 
forces. The defeat of Benton in the Missouri Legis- 
lature did not end the strife. He at once became 
a candidate for Atchison's place in the election 
which was to occur in 1855, and he was in the mean- 
time elected to the House of Representatives in 


1852. The most telling consideration in Benton's 
favor was the general demand, in which he him- 
self joined, for the immediate organization of the 
western territory in order to facilitate the building 
of a system of railways reaching the Pacific, with 
St. Louis as the point of departure. For a time, 
in 1852 and 1853, Benton was apparently trium- 
phant, and Atchison was himself willing to con- 
sent to the organization of the new territory with 
slavery excluded. The national leaders, however, 
were not of the same mind. The real issue was the 
continuance of slavery in the State; the one thing 
which must not be permitted was the transfer of 
anti-slavery agitation to the separate States. 
Henry Clay's proposal of 1849 to provide for grad- 
ual emancipation in Kentucky was bitterly re- 
sented. It had long been an axiom with the slav- 
ocracy that the institution would perish unless it 
had the opportunity to expand. Out of this con- 
viction arose Calhoun's famous theory that slave- 
owners had under the Constitution an equal right 
with the owners of all other forms of property in all 
the Territories. The theory itself assumed that 
the act prohibiting slavery in the territory north 
of the southern boundary of Missouri was uncon- 
stitutional and void. 


But this theory had not yet received judicial 
sanction, and the time was at hand when the ques- 
tion of freedom or slavery in the western territory 
was to be determined. Between March and De- 
cember, 1853, the discovery was made that the Act 
of 1850 organizing the Territories of New Mexico 
and Utah had superseded the Compromise of 1820; 
that a principle had been recognized applicable to 
all the Territories; that all were open to settlement 
on equal terms to slaveholders and non-slave- 
holders; that the subject of slavery should be re- 
moved from Congress to the people of the Terri- 
tories; and that they should decide, either when a 
territorial legislature was organized or at the time 
of the adoption of a constitution preparatory to 
statehood, whether or not slavery should be au- 
thorized. These ideas found expression in various 
newspapers during the month of December, 1853. 
Though the authorship of the new theory is still a 
matter of dispute, it is well known that Stephen A. 
Douglas became its chief sponsor and champion. 
The real motives and intentions of Douglas himself 
and of many of his supporters will always remain 
obscure and uncertain. But no uncertainty 
attaches to the motives of Senator Atchison 
and the leaders of the Calhoun section of the 


Democratic party. For ten years at least they had 
been laboring to get rid of the Missouri Com- 
promise. Their motive was to defend slavery and 
especially to forestall a successful movement for 
emancipation in the State of Missouri. 

From early in January, 1854, until late in May, 
Douglas's Nebraska bill held the attention of 
Congress and of the entire country. At first the 
measure simply assumed that the Missouri Com- 
promise had been superseded by the Act of 1850. 
Later the bill was amended in such a way as to 
repeal distinctly that time-honored act. At first 
the plan was to organize Nebraska as a single 
Territory extending from Texas to Canada. Later 
it was proposed to organize separate Territories, 
one west of Missouri under the name of Kansas, 
the other west of Iowa under the name of Nebraska. 
Opposition came from Free-soilers, from Northern 
Whigs and a few Whigs from the South, and from a 
large proportion of Northern Democrats. The 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise came like a 
thunderbolt out of a clear sky to the people of the 
North. For a time Douglas was the most unpopu- 
lar of political leaders and was apparently re- 
pudiated by his party. The first name designating 
the opponents of the Douglas bill was "Anti- 


Nebraska men, " for which the name Republican 
was gradually substituted and in 1856 became the 
accepted title of the party. 

The provision for two territorial governments 
instead of one carried with it the idea of a con- 
tinued balance between slave and free States; 
Kansas, being on a geographical parallel with 
the slave States, would probably permit slavery, 
while Nebraska would be occupied by free-state 
immigrants. Though this was a commonly ac- 
cepted view, Eli Thayer of Worcester, Massa- 
chusetts, and a few others took a different view. 
They proposed to make an end of the discussion of 
the extension of slavery by sending free men who 
were opposed to slavery to occupy the territory 
open for settlement. To attain this object they 
organized an Emigrant Aid Company incorpora- 
ted under the laws of the State. Even before the 
bill was passed, the corporation was in full work- 
ing order. Thayer himself traveled extensively 
throughout the Northern States stimulating in- 
terest in western emigration, with the conviction 
that the disturbing question could be peacefully 
settled in this way. California had thus been 
saved to freedom; why not all other Territories? 
The new company had as adviser and colaborer 


Dr. Charles Robinson, who had crossed the Kansas 
Territory on his way to California and had acquired 
valuable experience in the art of state-building 
under peculiar conditions. 

The first party sent out by the Emigrant Aid 
Company arrived in Kansas early in August, 1854, 
and selected the site for the town of Lawrence. 
During the later months of the year, four other 
parties were sent out, in all numbering nearly 
seven hundred. Through extensive advertise- 
ment by the company, through the general interest 
in the subject and the natural flow of emigration 
to the West, Kansas was receiving large accessions 
of free-state settlers. 

Meanwhile the men of Missouri, some of whom 
had striven for a decade to secure the privilege of 
extending slavery into the new Territory, were not 
idle. Instantly upon the removal of legal bar- 
riers, they occupied adjacent lands, founded towns, 
staked out claims, formed plans for preempting the 
entire region and for forestalling or driving out all 
intruders. They had at first the advantage of 
position, for they did not find it difficult to main- 
tain two homes, one in Kansas for purposes of 
voting and fighting and another in Missouri for 
actual residence. 


Andrew H. Reeder, a Pennsylvania Democrat 
of strong pro-slavery prejudices, was appointed 
first Governor of the Territory. When he arrived 
in Kansas in October, 1854, there were already 
several thousand settlers on the ground and others 
were continually arriving. He appointed the 
29th of November for the election of a delegate 
to Congress. On that day several hundred Mis- 
sourians came into the Territory and voted. There 
was no violence and no contest; the free-state men 
had no separate candidate. Notwithstanding the 
violence of language used by opposing factions, 
notwithstanding the organization of secret socie- 
ties pledged to drive out all Northern intruders, 
there was no serious disturbance until March 30, 
1855, the day appointed for the election of mem- 
bers of the territorial Legislature. On that day the 
Missourians came full five thousand strong, armed 
with guns, bowie-knives, and revolvers. They met 
with no resistance from the residents, who were un- 
armed. They took charge of the precincts and 
chose pro-slavery delegates with one exception. 
Governor Reeder protested and recommended to 
the precincts the filing of protests. Only seven 
responded, however, and in these cases new elec- 
tions were held and contesting delegates elected. 


The Governor issued certificates to these and to all 
those who in other precincts had been chosen by 
the horde from Missouri. When the Legislature 
met in July, the seven contests were decided in 
favor of the pro-slavery party, the single free- 
state member resigned, and the assembly was 

Governor Reeder fully expected that President 
Pierce would nullify the election, and to this end 
he made a journey to Washington in April. On 
the way he delivered a public address at Easton, 
Pennsylvania, describing in lurid colors the out- 
rage which had been perpetrated upon the people 
of Kansas by the "border ruffians" from Mis- 
souri, and asserting that the accounts in the North- 
ern press had not been exaggerated. 

While Governor Reeder in contact with the 
actual events in Kansas was becoming an active 
Free-soiler, President Pierce in association with 
Jefferson Davis and others of his party was de- 
veloping active sympathies with the people of 
western Missouri. To the President this invasion 
of territory west of the slave State by Northern 
men aided by Northern corporations seemed a 
violation of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and he 
sought to induce Reeder to resign. This, however. 


the Governor positively refused to do unless the 
President would formally approve his conduct in 
Kansas — an endorsement which required more 
fortitude than President Pierce possessed. On his 
return to Kansas, determined to do what he could 
to protect the Kansas people from injustice, he 
called the Legislature to meet at Pawnee, a point 
far removed from the Missouri border. Imme- 
diately upon their organization at that place the 
members of the Legislature adjourned to meet at 
Shawnee, near the border of Missouri. The Gover- 
nor, who decided that this action was illegal, then 
refused to recognize the Assembly at the new place. 
A deadlock thus ensued which was broken on the 
15th of August by the removal of Governor Reeder 
and the appointment of Wilson Shannon of Ohio 
in his place. 

In the meantime the territorial Legislature had 
adjourned, having "enacted" an elaborate pro- 
slavery code made up from the slave code of Mis- 
souri with a number of special adaptations. For 
example, it was made a penitentiary offense to 
deny by speaking or writing, or by printing, or by 
introducing any printed matter, the right of per- 
sons to hold slaves in the Territory; no man was 
eligible to jury service who was conscientiously 

Daguerreotype in the collection of L. C. Handy, Washington. 


Drawing from a daguerreotype. 

ri-ST,- -f? TIRADE 

oa io GO unless L^ 

^e his conduct 
aich required mov 
I J^ierce possessed. Onh- 
'AoaM*^:mA"a^fiSOThat he ecu. 

re to xnvrt at* Pawnee, a poi» 
ari border. Imm 
at that place 11 
e adjourned to meet . 
r of Missouri. The Gover 
action was illegal, th^ 
Assembly at the new plaf' 
I which was broken on f> ' 
'moval of Governor Ro 
A Wilson Shannon of ' 

t (Tritorial Legislature h 
aacted'* an elaborate 
^ ^*rom th^^ slave code of 

rilmg, or by printing, 
i matter, the right oi yvr- 
the Territory; no mar^ 
i: who was conscienti 


opposed to holding slaves ; and lawyers were bound 
by oath to support the territorial statutes. 

The free-state men, with the approval of Reeder, 
refused to recognize the Legislature and inaugu- 
rated a movement in the fall of 1855 to adopt a con- 
stitution and to organize a provisional territorial 
Government preparatory to admission as a State, 
following in this respect the procedure in Califor- 
nia and Michigan. A convention met in Topeka 
in October, 1855, and completed on the 11th of 
November the draft of a constitution which pro- 
hibited slavery. On the 15th of December the 
constitution was approved by a practically un- 
animous vote, only free-state men taking part 
in the election. A month later a Legislature was 
elected and at the same time Charles Robinson 
was elected Governor of the new commonwealth. 
In the previous October, Reeder had been chosen 
Free-soil delegate to Congress. The Topeka free- 
state Legislature met on the 4th of March, 1856, 
and after petitioning Congress to admit Kansas 
under the Topeka constitution, adjourned until 
the 4th of July pending the action of Congress. 
Thus at the end of two years two distinct Govern- 
ments had come into existence within the Territory 
of Kansas. 


It speaks volumes for the self-control and mod- 
eration of the two parties that no hostile encounter 
had occurred between the contestants. When the 
armed Missourians came in March, 1855, the un- 
armed settlers offered no resistance. Afterward, 
however, they supplied themselves with Sharp's 
rifles and organized a militia. With the advent of 
Governor Shannon in September, 1855, the pro- 
slavery position was much strengthened. In No- 
vember, in a quarrel over a land claim, a free-state 
settler by the name of Dow was killed. The mur- 
derer escaped, but a friend of the victim was ac- 
cused of uttering threats against a friend of the 
murderer. For this offense a posse led by Sheriff 
Jones, a Missourian, seized him, and would have 
carried him away if fourteen free-state men had not 
"persuaded" the Sheriff to surrender his prisoner. 
This interference was accepted by the Missouri- 
ans as a signal for battle. The rescuers must be 
arrested and punished. A large force of infuriated 
Missourians and pro-slavery settlers assembled for 
a raid upon the town of Lawrence. In the mean- 
time the Lawrence militia planned and executed a 
systematic defense of the town. When the two 
armies came within speaking distance, a parley 
ensued in which the Governor took a leading part 


in settling the aflFair without a hostile shot. This is 
known in Kansas history as the "Wakarusa War." 
The progress of affairs in Kansas was followed 
with intense interest in all parts of the country. 
North and South vied with each other in the en- 
couragement of emigration to Kansas. Colonel 
Buford of Alabama sold a large number of slaves 
and devoted the proceeds to meeting the expense 
of conducting a troop of three hundred men to 
Kansas in the winter of 1856. They went armed 
with "the sword of the spirit," and all provided 
with Bibles supplied by the leading churches. 
Arrived in the territory, they were duly furnished 
with more worldly weapons and were drilled for 
action. About the same time a parallel incident 
is said to have occurred in New Haven, Connec- 
ticut. A deacon in one of the churches had en- 
listed a company of seventy bound for Kansas. A 
meeting was held in the church to raise money to 
defray expenses. The leader of the company de- 
clared that they also needed rifles for self-defense. 
Forthwith Professor Silliman, of the University, 
subscribed one Sharp's rifle, and others followed 
with like pledges. Finally Henry Ward Beecher, 
who was the speaker of the occasion, rose and 
promised that, if twenty-five rifles were pledged 


on the spot, Plymouth Church in Brooklyn would 
be responsible for the remaining twenty-five that 
were needed. He had already said in a previous 
address that for the slaveholders of Kansas, Sharp's 
rifles were a greater moral agency than the Bible. 
This led to the designation of the weapons as 
"Beecher's Bibles." Such was the spirit which 
prevailed in the two sections of the country. 

President Pierce had now become intensely hos- 
tile towards the free-state inhabitants of Kansas. 
Having recognized the Legislature elected on 
March 30, 1855, as the legitimate Government, 
he sent a special message to Congress on January 
24, 1856, in which he characterized as revolution- 
ary the movement of the free-state men to organ- 
ize a separate Government in Kansas. From the 
President's point of view, the emissaries of the 
New England Emigrant Aid Association were un- 
lawful invaders. In this position he not only had 
the support of the South, but was powerfully 
seconded by Stephen A. Douglas and other North- 
ern Democrats. 

The attitude of the Administration at Washing- 
ton was a source of great encouragement to Sheriff 
Jones and his associates, who were anxious to 
wreak their vengeance on the city of Lawrence for 


the outcome of the Wakarusa War. Jones came 
to Lawrence apparently for the express purpose of 
picking a quarrel, for he revived the old dispute 
about the rescuing party of the previous fall. As a 
consequence one enraged opponent slapped him in 
the face, and at last an unknown assassin entered 
the sheriff's tent by night and inflicted a revolver 
wound in his back. Though the citizens of Law- 
rence were greatly chagrined at this event and 
offered a reward for the discovery of the assailant, 
the attack upon the sheriff was made the signal for 
drastic procedure against the town of Lawrence. 
A grand jury found indictments for treason against 
Reeder, Robinson, and other leading citizens of 
the town. The United States marshal gave notice 
that he expected resistance in making arrests and 
called upon all law-abiding citizens of the Terri- 
tory to aid in executing the law. It was a welcome 
summons to the pro-slavery forces. Not only local 
militia companies responded but also Buford's 
company and various companies from Missouri, 
in all more than seven hundred men, with two 
cannon. It had always been the set purpose of the 
free-state men not to resist federal authority by 
force, unless as a last resort, and they had no in- 
tention of opposing the marshal in making arrests. 


He performed his duty without hindrance and then 
placed the armed troops under the command of 
Sheriff Jones, who proceeded first to destroy the 
printing-press of the town of Lawrence. Then, 
against the protest of the marshal and Colonel 
Buf ord, the vindictive sheriff trained his guns upon 
the new hotel which was the pride of the city; the 
ruin of the building was made complete by fire, 
while a drunken mob pillaged the town. 

On May 22, 1856, the day following the attack 
upon Lawrence, Charles Sumner was struck down 
in the United States Senate on account of a speech 
made in defense of the rights of Kansas settlers. 
The two events, which were reported at the same 
time in the daily press, furnished the key-note to 
the presidential campaign of that year, for nomin- 
ating conventions followed in a few days and 
"bleeding Kansas" was the all-absorbing issue. 
In spite of the destruction of property in Lawrence 
and the arrest of the leaders of the free-state party, 
Kansas had not been plunged into a state of civil 
war. The free-state party had fired no hostile shot. 
Governor Robinson and his associates still relied 
upon public opinion and they accepted the wanton 
attack upon Lawrence as the best assurance that 
they would yet win their cause by legal means. 


A change, however, soon took place which is 
associated with the entrance of John Brown into 
the history of Kansas. Brown and his sons were 
living at Osawatomie, some thirty miles south of 
Lawrence. They were present at the Wakarusa 
War in December, 1855, and were on their way to 
the defense of Lawrence on May 21, 1856, when 
they were informed that the town had been de- 
stroyed. Three days after this event Brown and 
his sons with two or three others made a midnight 
raid upon their pro-slavery neighbors living in the 
Pottawatomie valley and slew five men. The au- 
thors of this deed were not certainly known until 
the publication of a confession of one of the party 
in 1879, twenty years after the chief actor had won 
the reputation of a martyr to the cause of liberty. 
The Browns, however, were suspected at the time; 
warrants were out for their arrest; and their homes 
were destroyed. 

For more than three months after this incident, 
Kansas was in a state of war; in fact, two distinct 
varieties of warfare were carried on. Publicly 
organized companies on both sides engaged in 
acts of attack and defense, while at the same time 
irresponsible secret bands were busy in violent re- 
prisals, in plunder and assassination. In both of 



these forms of warfare, the free-state men proved 
themselves fully equal to their opponents, and 
Governor Shannon was entirely unable to cope 
with the situation. It is estimated that two hun- 
dred men were slain and two million dollars' worth 
of property was destroyed. 

The state of affairs in Kansas served to win 
many Northern Democrats to the support of the 
Republicans. The Administration at Washington 
was held responsible for the violence and bloodshed. 
The Democratic leaders in the political campaign, 
determined now upon a complete change in the 
Government of the Territory, appointed J. W. 
Geary as Governor and placed General Smith in 
charge of the troops. The new incumbents, both 
from Pennsylvania, entered upon their labors early 
in September, and before the October state elec- 
tions Geary was able to report that peace reigned 
throughout the Territory. A prompt reaction in 
favor of the Democrats followed. Buchanan, 
their presidential candidate, rejoiced in the fact 
that order had been restored by two citizens of 
his own State. It was now very generally con- 
ceded that Kansas would become a free State, and 
intimate associates of Buchanan assured the public 
that he was himself of that opinion and that if 


elected he would insure to the free-state party 
even-handed justice. Thousands of voters were 
thus won to Buchanan's support. There was a 
general distrust of the Republican candidate as 
a man lacking political experience, and a strong 
conservative reaction against the idea of electing 
a President by the votes of only one section of the 
country. At the election in November, Buchanan 
received a majority of sixty of the electoral votes 
over Fremont, but in the popular vote he fell short 
of a majority by nearly 400,000. Fillmore, candi- 
date of the Whig and the American parties, re- 
ceived 874,000 votes. 

There was still profound distrust of the adminis- 
tration of the Territory of Kansas, and the free- 
state settlers refused to vote at the election set 
for the choosing of a new territorial Legislature 
in October. The result was another pro-slavery 
assembly. Governor Geary, however, determined 
to secure and enforce just treatment of both parties. 
He was at once brought into violent conflict with 
the Legislature in an experience which was almost 
an exact counterpart of that of Governor Reeder; 
and Washington did not support his efforts to se- 
cure fair dealings. A pro-slavery deputation visited 
President Pierce in February, 1857, and returned 


with the assurance that Governor Geary would be 
removed. Without waiting for the President to 
act, Geary resigned in disgust on the 4th of March. 
Of the three Governors whom President Pierce 
appointed, two became active supporters of the 
free-state party and a third, Governor Shannon, 
fled from the territory in mortal terror lest he 
should be slain by members of the party which he 
had tried to serve. 



The real successor to John Quincy Adams as the 
protagonist of the anti-slavery cause in Congress 
proved to be not Seward but Charles Sumner 
of Massachusetts. This newcomer entered the 
Senate without previous legislative experience but 
with an unusual equipment for the role he was to 
play. A graduate of Harvard College at the age 
of nineteen, he had entered upon the study of law 
in the newly organized law school in which Joseph 
Story held one of the two professorships. He was 
admitted to the bar in 1834, but three years later 
he left his slender law practice for a long period 
of European travel. This three years' sojourn 
brought him into intimate touch with the lead- 
ing spirits in arts, letters, and public life in 
England and on the Continent, and thus ripened 
his talents to their full maturity. He returned 

to his law practice poor in pocket but rich in 



the possession of lifelong friendships and happy 

Sumner's political career did not begin until 
1847, when as a Whig he not only opposed any 
further extension of slavery but strove to commit 
his party to the policy of emancipation in all the 
States. Failing in this attempt, Sumner became 
an active Free-soiler in 1848. He was twice a can- 
didate for Congress on the Free-soil ticket but 
failed of election. In 1851 he was elected to the 
United States Senate by a coalition between his 
party and the Democrats. This is the only public 
office he ever held, but he was continuously re- 
elected until his death in 1874. 

John Quincy Adams had addressed audiences 
trained in the old school, which did not defend 
slavery on moral grounds. Charles Sumner faced 
audiences of the new school, which upheld the in- 
stitution as a righteous moral order. This explains 
the chief difference in the attitude of the two lead- 
ers. Sumner, like Adams, began as an opponent 
of pro-slavery aggression, but he went farther: he 
attacked the institution itself as a great moral 

As a constitutional lawyer Sumner is not the 
equal of his predecessor, Daniel Webster. He is 


less original, less convincing in the enunciation of 
broad general principles. He appears rather as 
a special pleader marshaling all available forces 
against the one institution which assailed the 
Union. In this particular work, he surpassed all 
others, for, with his unbounded industry, he per- 
mitted no precedent, no legal advantage, no inci- 
dent of history, no fact in current politics fitted to 
strengthen his cause, to escape his untiring search. 
He showed a marvelous skill in the selection, ar- 
rangement, and presentation of his materials, and 
for his models he took the highest forms of classic 
forensic utterance. 

Sumner exhibited the ordinary aloofness and 
lack of familiarity with actual conditions in the 
South which was characteristic of the New England 
abolitionist. He perceived no race problem, no 
peculiar difficulty in the readjustments of master 
and slave which were involved in emancipation, 
and he ignored all obstacles to the accomplishment 
of his ends. Webster's arraignment of South Caro- 
lina was directed against an alleged erroneous 
dogma and only incidentally affected personal 
morality. The reaction, therefore, was void of 
bitter resentment. Sumner's charges were directed 
against alleged moral turpitude, and the classic 


form and scrupulous regard for parliamentary 
rules which he observed only added to the feeling 
of personal resentment on the part of his oppo- 
nents. Some of the defenders of slavery were them- 
selves devoted students of the classics, but they 
found that the orations of Demosthenes furnished 
nothing suited to their purpose. The result was a 
humiliating exhibition of weakness, personal abuse, 
and vindictiveness on their part. 

There was a conspiracy of silence on the slavery 
question in 1852. Each of the national parties 
was definitely committed to the support of the 
compromise and especially to the faithful observ- 
ance of the Fugitive Slave Law. Free-soilers had 
distinctly declined in numbers and influence dur- 
ing the four preceding years. Only a handful of 
members in each House of Congress remained un- 
affiliated with the parties whose platforms had or- 
dained silence on the one issue of chief public con- 
cern. It was by a mere accident in Massachusetts 
politics that Charles Sumner was sent to the Senate 
as a man free on all public questions. 

While the parties were making their nominations 
for the Presidency, Sumner sought diligently for 
an opportunity in the Senate to give utterance to 
the sentiments of his party on the repeal of the 


Fugitive Slave Act. But not until late in August 
did he overcome the resistance of the combined 
opposition and gain the floor. The watchmen were 
caught off guard when Sumner introduced an 
amendment to an appropriation bill which enabled 
him to deliver a carefully prepared address, several 
hours in length, calling for the repeal of the law. 
The first part of this speech is devoted to the 
general topic of the relation of the national Gov- 
ernment to slavery and was made in answer to the 
demand of Calhoun and his followers for the direct 
national recognition of slavery. For such a de- 
mand Sumner found no warrant. By the decision 
of Lord Mansfield, said he, "the state of slavery" 
was declared to be *'of such a nature, that it is in- 
capable of being introduced on any reasons, moral 
or political, but only by positive law. ... it is so 
odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it 
but positive law." Adopting the same principle, 
the Supreme Court of the State of Mississippi, 
a tribunal of slaveholders, asserted that "slavery 
is condemned by reason and the Laws of Nature. 
It exists, and can only exist, through municipal 
regulations." So also declared the Supreme Court 
of Kentucky and numerous other tribunals. This 
aspect of the subject furnished Sumner occasion 


for a masterly array of all the utterances in favor 
of liberty to be found in the Constitution, in the 
Declaration of Independence, in the constitutional 
conventions, in the principles of common law. All 
these led up to and supported the one grand con- 
clusion that, when Washington took the oath as 
President of the United States, "slavery existed 
nowhere on the national territory" and therefore 
"is in no respect a national institution." Apply 
the principles of the Constitution in their purity, 
then, and "in all national territories slavery will 
be impossible. On the high seas, under the na- 
tional flag, slavery will be impossible. In the 
District of Columbia, slavery will instantly cease. 
Inspired by these principles, Congress can give 
no sanction to slavery by the admission of new 
slave States. Nowhere under the Constitution can 
the Nation by legislation or otherwise, support 
slavery, hunt slaves, or hold property in man. 
... As slavery is banished from the national 
jurisdiction, it will cease to vex our national poli- 
tics. It may linger in the States as a local institu- 
tion; but it will no longer engender national 
animosities when it no longer demands national 

The second part of Sumner's address dealt 


directly with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It is 
much less convincing and suggests more of the 
characteristics of the special pleader with a diffi- 
cult case. Sumner here undertook to prove that 
Congress exceeded its powers when it presumed to 
lay down rules for the rendition of fugitive slaves, 
and this task exceeded even his power as a con- 
stitutional lawyer. 

The circumstances under which Sumner at- 
tacked slavery were such as to have alarmed a less 
self -centered man, for the two years following the 
introduction of the Nebraska bill were marked 
by the most acrimonious debate in the history of 
Congress, and by physical encounters, challenges, 
and threats of violence. But though Congressmen 
carried concealed weapons, Sumner went his way 
unarmed and apparently in complete unconcern as 
to any personal danger, though it is known that 
he was fully aware that in the faithful performance 
of what he deemed to be his duty he was incurring 
the risk of assassination. 

The pro-slavery party manifested on all occa- 
sions a disposition to make the most of the weak 
point in Sumner's constitutional argument against 
the Fugitive Slave Law. He was accused of taking 
an oath to support the Constitution though at the 


same time intending to violate one of its provisions. 
In a discussion, in June, 1854, over a petition pray- 
ing for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, Sena- 
tor Butler of South Carolina put the question 
directly to Senator Sumner whether he would 
himself unite with others in returning a fugitive 
to his master. Sumner's quick reply was, "Is thy 
servant a dog that he should do this thing? " En- 
raged Southerners followed this remark with a 
most bitter onslaught upon Sumner which lasted 
for two days. When Sumner again got the floor, 
he said in reference to Senator Butler's remark: 
*'In fitful phrase, which seemed to come from un- 
conscious excitement, so common with the Senator, 
he shot forth various cries about 'dogs,' and, 
among other things, asked if there was any 'dog' 
in the Constitution .? The Senator did not seem to 
bear in mind, through the heady currents of that 
moment that, by the false interpretation he fastens 
upon the Constitution, he has helped to nurture 
there a whole kennel of Carolina bloodhounds, 
trained, with savage jaw and insatiable in scent, 
for the hunt of flying bondmen. No, sir, I do not 
believe that there is any 'kennel of bloodhounds,' 
or even any * dog ' in the Constitution." Thereafter 
offensive personal references between the Senators 


from Massachusetts and South Carolina became 
habitual. These personalities were a source of 
regret to many of Sumner's best friends, but 
they fill a small place, after all, in his great work. 
Nor were they the chief source of rancor on the 
part of his enemies, for Southern orators were 
accustomed to personalities in debate. Sumner was 
feared and hated principally because his presence 
in Congress endangered the institution of slavery. 
Sumner's speech on the crime against Kansas 
was perhaps the most remarkable effort of his 
career. It had been known for many weeks that 
Sumner was preparing to speak upon the burning 
question, and his friends had already expressed 
anxiety for his personal safety. For the larger 
part of two days. May 19 and 20, 1856, he held the 
reluctant attention of the Senate. For the delivery 
of this speech he chose a time which was most 
opportune. The crime against Kansas had, in a 
sense, culminated in March of the previous year, 
but the settlers had refused to submit to the 
Government set up by hostile invaders. They had 
armed themselves for the defense of their rights, 
had elected a Governor and a Legislature by volun- 
tary association, had called a convention, and had 
adopted a constitution preparatory to admission 


to the Union. That constitution was now before 
the Senate for approval . President Pierce, Stephen 
A. Douglas, and all the Southern leaders had de- 
cided to treat as treasonable acts the efforts of 
Kansas settlers to secure an orderly government. 
Their plans for the arrest of the leaders were well 
advanced and the arrests were actually made on 
the day after Sumner had concluded his speech. 

A paragraph in the address is prophetic of what 
occurred within a week. Douglas had introduced 
a bill recognizing the Legislature chosen by the 
Missourians as the legal Government and provid- 
ing for the formation of a constitution under its 
initiative at some future date. After describing 
this proposed action as a continuation of the crime 
against Kansas, Sumner declared : *'Sir, you cannot 
expect that the people of Kansas will submit to the 
usurpation which this bill sets up and bids them 
bow before, as the Austrian tyrant set up the ducal 
hat in the Swiss market-place. If you madly per- 
severe, Kansas will not be without her William 
Tell, who will refuse at all hazards to recognize the 
tyrannical edict; and this will be the beginning of 
civil war." 

To keep historical sequence clear at this point, 
all thought of John Brown should be eliminated. 


for he was then unknown to the public. It must 
be remembered that Governor Robinson and the 
free-state settlers were, as Sumner probably knew, 
prepared to resist the general Government as soon 
as there should be a clear case of outrage for which 
the Administration at Washington could be held 
directly responsible. Such a case occurred when 
the United States marshal placed federal troops 
in the hands of Sheriff Jones to assist in looting the 
town of Lawrence. Governor Robinson no longer 
had any scruples in advising forcible resistance to 
all who used force to impose upon Kansas a Gov- 
ernment which the people had rejected. 

In the course of his address Sumner compared 
Senators Butler and Douglas to Don Quixote and 
Sancho Panza, saying: "The Senator from South 
Carolina has read many books of chivalry, and 
believes himself a chivalrous knight, with senti- 
ments of honor and courage. Of course he has 
chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows, 
and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely 
to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, 
is chaste in his sight. I mean the harlot Slavery. 
Let her be impeached in character, or any proposi- 
tion be made to shut her out from the extension of 
her wantonness, and no extravagance of manner or 


hardihood of assertion is then too great for the 

When Sumner concluded, the gathering storm 
broke forth. Cass of Michigan, after saying that 
he had listened to the address with equal sur- 
prise and regret, characterized it as "the most un- 
American and unpatriotic that ever grated on the 
ears of the members of that high body." Douglas 
and Mason were personal and abusive. Douglas, 
recalling Sumner's answer to Senator Butler's 
question whether he would assist in returning a 
slave, renewed the charge made two years earlier 
that Sumner had violated his oath of office. This 
attack called forth from Sumner another attempt 
to defend the one weak point in his speech of 1852, 
for he was always irritated by reference to this 
subject, and at the same time he enjoyed a fine 
facility in the use of language which irritated others. 

One utterance in Douglas's reply to Sumner is of 
special significance in view of what occurred two 
days later: "Is it his object to provoke some of us 
to kick him as we would a dog in the street, that 
he may get sympathy upon the just chastisement.^" 
Two days later Sumner was sitting alone at his 
desk in the Senate chamber after adjournment 
when Preston Brooks, a nephew of Senator Butler 


and a member of the lower House, entered and 
accosted him with the statement that he had read 
Sumner's speech twice and that it was a libel on 
South Carolina and upon a kinsman of his. There- 
upon Brooks followed his words by striking Sum- 
ner on the head with a cane. Though the Senator 
was dazed and blinded by the unexpected attack, 
his assailant rained blow after blow until he had 
broken the cane and Sumner lay prostrate and 
bleeding at his feet. Brooks's remarks in the House 
of Representatives almost a month after the event 
leave no doubt of his determination to commit 
murder had he failed to overcome his antagonist 
with a cane. He had also taken the precaution to 
have two of his friends ready to prevent any inter- 
ference before the punishment was completed. 
Toombs of Georgia witnessed a part of the assault 
and expressed approval of the act, and everywhere 
throughout the South, in the public press, in legis- 
lative halls, in public meetings. Brooks was hailed 
as a hero. The resolution for his expulsion intro- 
duced in the House received the support of only 
one vote from south of Mason and Dixon's Line. 
A large majority favored the resolution, but not 
the required two-thirds majority. Brooks, how- 
ever, thought best to resign but was triumphantly 



returned to his seat with only six votes against 
him. Nothing was left undone to express South- 
ern gratitude, and he received gifts of canes in- 
numerable as symbols of his valor. Yet before his 
death, which occurred in the following January, 
he confessed to his friend Orr that he was sick of 
being regarded as the representative of bullies and 
disgusted at receiving testimonials of their esteem. 
With similar unanimity the North condemned 
and resented the assault that had been made upon 
Sumner. From party considerations, if for no 
other reasons. Democrats regretted the event. Re- 
publicans saw in the brutal attack and in the 
manner of its reception in the South another evi- 
dence of the irrepressible conflict between slavery 
and freedom. They were ready to take up the 
issue so forcibly presented by their fallen leader. 
A part of the regular order of exercises at public 
meetings of Republicans was to express sympathy 
with their wounded champion and with the Kansas 
people of the pillaged town of Lawrence, and to 
adopt ways and means to bring to an end the Ad- 
ministration which they held responsible for these 
outrages. Sumner, though silenced, was eloquent 
in a new and more effective way. A half million 
copies of The Crime against Kansas were printed 


and circulated. On the issue thus presented, 
Northern Democrats became convinced that their 
defeat at the pending election was certain, and 
their leaders instituted the change in their pro- 
gram which has been described in a previous chap- 
ter. They had made an end of the war in Kansas 
and drew from their candidate for the Presidency 
the assurance that just treatment should at last 
be meted out to harassed Kansas. 

Though Sumner's injuries were at first regarded 
as slight, they eventually proved to be extremely 
serious. After two attempts to resume his place 
in the Senate, he found that he was unable to re- 
main; yet when his term expired, he was almost 
unanimously reelected. Much of his time for three 
and a half years he spent in Europe. In Decem- 
ber, 1859, he seemed sufficiently recovered to re- 
sume senatorial duties, but it was not until the 
following June that he again addressed the Senate. 
On that occasion he delivered his last great philip- 
pic against slavery. The subject under discussion 
was still the admission of Kansas as a free State, 
and, as he remarked in his opening sentences, he 
resumed the discussion precisely where he had left 
off more than four years before. 

Sumner had assumed the task of uttering a final 


word against slavery as barbarism and a barrier 
to civilization. He spoke under the impelling . 
power of a conviction in his God-given mission to 
utilize a great occasion to the full and for a noble 
end. For this work his whole life had been a prep- 
aration. Accustomed from early youth to spend 
ten hours a day with books on law, history, and 
classic literature, he knew as no other man then 
knew what aid the past could offer to the struggle 
for freedom. The bludgeon of the would-be assas- 
sin had not impaired his memory, and four years of 
enforced leisure enabled him to fulfill his highest 
ideals of perfect oratorical form. Personalities he 
eliminated from this final address, and blemishes 
he pruned away. In his earlier speeches he had 
been limited by the demands of the particular ques- 
tion under discussion, but in The Barbarism of 
Slavery he was free to deal with the general subject, 
and he utilized incidents in American slavery to 
demonstrate the general upward trend of history. 
The orator was sustained by the full consciousness 
that his utterances were in harmony with the 
grand sweep of historic truth as well as with the 
spirit of the present age. 

Sumner was not a party man and was at no time 
in complete harmony with his coworkers. It was 


always a question whether his speeches had a 
favorable effect upon the immediate action of 
Congress; there can, however, be no doubt of the 
fact that the larger public was edified and in- 
fluenced. Copies of The Crime against Kansas and 
The Barbarism of Slavery were printed and circu- 
lated by the million and were eagerly read from 
beginning to end. They gave final form to the 
thoughts and utterances of many political leaders 
both in America and in Europe. More than any 
other man it was Charles Sumner who, with a 
wealth of historical learning and great skill in 
forensic art, put the irrepressible conflict between 
slavery and freedom in its proper setting in human 



In view of the presidential election of 1856 North- 
ern Democrats entertained no doubts that Kansas, 
now occupied by a majority of free-state men, 
would be received as a free State without further 
ado. The case was diflPerent with the Democrats 
of western Missouri, already for ten years in 
close touch with those Southern leaders who were 
determined either to secure new safeguards for 
slavery or to form an independent confederacy. 
Their program was to continue their efforts to 
make Kansas a slave State or at least to maintain 
the disturbance there until the conditions ap- 
peared favorable for secession. 

In February, 1857, the pro-slavery territorial 
Legislature provided for the election of delegates 
to a constitutional convention, but Governor 
Geary vetoed the act because no provision was 
made for submitting the proposed constitution to 



the vote of the people. The bill was passed over 
his veto, and arrangements were made for regis- 
tration which free-state men regarded as imperfect, 
inadequate, or fraudulent. 

President Buchanan undoubtedly intended to do 
full justice to the people of Kansas. To this end 
he chose Robert J. Walker, a Mississippi Demo- 
crat, as Governor of Kansas. Walker was a states- 
man of high rank, who had been associated with 
Buchanan in the Cabinet of James K. Polk. Three 
times he refused to accept the oflSce and finally 
undertook the mission only from a sense of duty. 
Being aware of the fate of Governor Geary, Walker 
insisted on an explicit understanding with Bu- 
chanan that his policies should not be repudiated 
by the federal Administration . Late in May he went 
to Kansas with high hopes and expectations. But 
the free-state party had persisted in the repudia- 
tion of a Government which had been first set up 
by an invading army and, as they alleged, had 
since then been perpetuated by fraud. They had 
absolutely refused to take part in any election 
called by that Government and had continued to 
keep alive their own legislative assembly. Despite 
Walker's efforts to persuade them to take part 
in the election of delegates to the constitutional 


convention, they resolutely held aloof. Yet, as 
they became convinced that he was acting in 
good faith, they did participate in the October 
elections to the territorial Legislature, electing nine 
out of the thirteen councilors and twenty -four out 
of the thirty-nine representatives. Gross frauds 
had been perpetrated in two districts, and the 
Governor made good his promise by rejecting the 
fraudulent votes. In one case a poll list had been 
made up by copying an old Cincinnati register. 

In the meantime, thanks to the abstention of 
the free-state people, the pro-slavery party had 
secured absolute control of the constitutional con- 
vention. Yet there was the most absolute assur- 
ance by the Governor in the name of the President 
of the United States that no constitution would 
be sent to Congress for approval which had not 
received the sanction of a majority of the voters 
of the Territory. This was Walker's reiterated 
promise, and President Buchanan had on this 
point been equally explicit. 

When, therefore, the pro-slavery constitutional 
convention met at Lecompton in October, Kansas 
had a free-state Legislature duly elected. To make 
Kansas still a slave State it was necessary to get 
rid of that Legislature and of the Governor through 


whose agency it had been chosen, and at the same 
time to frame a constitution which would secure 
the approval of the Buchanan Administration. 
Incredible as it may seem, all this was actually 

John Calhoun, who had been chosen president 
of the Lecompton convention, spent some time in 
Washington before the adjourned meeting of the 
convention. He secured the aid of master-hands 
at manipulation. Walker had already been dis- 
credited at the White House on account of his 
rejection of fraudulent returns at the October 
election of members to the Legislature. The con- 
vention was unwilling to take further chances on a 
matter of that sort, and it consequently made it a 
part of the constitution that the president of the 
convention should have entire charge of the elec- 
tion to be held for its approval. The free-state 
Legislature was disposed of by placing in the con- 
stitution a provision that all existing laws should 
remain in force until the election of a Legislature 
provided for under the constitution. 

The master-stroke of the convention, however, 
was the provision for submitting the constitution 
to the vote of the people. Voters were not per- 
mitted to accept or reject the instrument; all votes 


were to be for the constitution either "with 
slavery " or "with no slavery." But the document 
itself recognized slavery as already existing and 
declared the right of slave property like other 
property "before and higher than any constitu- 
tional sanction." Other provisions made emanci- 
pation diflBcult by providing in any case for com- 
plete monetary remuneration and for the consent 
of the owners. There were numerous other pro- 
visions offensive to free-state men. It had been 
rightly surmised that they would take no part in 
such an election and that "the constitution with 
slavery" would be approved. The vote on the 
constitution was set for the 21st of December. 
For the constitution with slavery 6226 votes were 
recorded and 569 for the constitution without 

While these events were taking place, Walker 
went to Washington to enter his protest but 
resigned after finding only a hostile reception by 
the President and his Cabinet. Stanton, who was 
acting Governor in the absence of Walker, then 
called together the free-state Legislature, which set 
January 4, 1858, as the date for approving or re- 
jecting the Lecompton Constitution. At this elec- 
tion the votes cast were 138 for the constitution 


with slavery, 24 for the constitution without slav- 
ery, and 10,226 against the constitution. But 
President Buchanan had become thoroughly com- 
mitted to the support of the Lecompton Constitu- 
tion. Disregarding the advice of the new Gov- 
ernor, he sent the Lecompton Constitution to 
Congress with the recommendation that Kansas 
be admitted to the Union as a slave State. 

Here was a crisis big with the fate of the Demo- 
cratic party, if not of the Union. Stephen A. 
Douglas had already given notice that he would 
oppose the Lecompton Constitution. In favor of 
its rejection he made a notable speech which called 
forth the bitterest enmity from the South and 
arrayed all the forces of the Administration against 
him. Supporters of Douglas were removed from 
office, and anti-Douglas men were put in their 
places. In his fight against the fraudulent con- 
stitution Douglas himself, however, still had the 
support of a majority of Northern Democrats, 
especially in the Western States, and that of all the 
Republicans in Congress. A bill to admit Kansas 
passed the Senate, but in the House a proviso was 
attached requiring that the constitution should 
first be submitted to the people of Kansas for 
acceptance or rejection. This amendment was 


finally accepted by the Senate with the modifica- 
tion that, if the people voted for the constitution, 
the State should have a large donation of public 
land, but that if they rejected it, they should not 
be admitted as a State until they had a popula- 
tion large enough to entitle them to a representa- 
tive in the lower House. The vote of the people 
was cast on August 2, 1858, and the constitution 
was finally rejected by a majority of nearly twelve 
thousand. Thus resulted the last effort to impose 
slavery on the people of Kansas. 

Although the war between slavery and freedom 
was fought out in miniature in Kansas, the imme- 
diate issue was the preservation of slavery in Mis- 
souri. This, however, involved directly the pros- 
pect of emancipation in other border States and 
ultimate complete emancipation in all the States. 
The issue is well stated in a Fourth of July address 
which Charles Robinson delivered at Lawrence, 
Kansas, in 1855, after the invasion of Missourians 
to influence the March election of that year, but 
before the beginning of bloody conflict: 

What reason is given for the cowardly invasion of our 
rights by our neighbors? They say that if Kansas is 
allowed to be free the institution of slavery in their own 
State will be in danger. ... If the people of Missouri 


make it necessary, by their unlawful course, for us to 
establish freedom in that State in order to enjoy the 
liberty of governing ourselves in Kansas, then let that 
be the issue. If Kansas and the whole North must be 
enslaved, or Missouri become free, then let her be made 
free. Aye! and if to be free ourselves, slavery must be 
abolished in the whole country, then let us accept that 
issue. If black slavery in a part of the States is incom- 
patible with white freedom in any State, then let black 
slavery be abolished from all. As men espousing the 
principles of the Declaration of the Fathers, we can do 
nothing else than accept these issues. 

The men who saved Kansas to freedom were not 
abolitionists in the restricted sense. Governor 
Walker found in 1857 that a considerable majority 
of the free-state men were Democrats and that 
some were from the South. Nearly all actual 
settlers, from whatever source they came, were 
free-state men who felt that a slave was a burden 
in such a country as Kansas. For example, during 
the first winter of the occupation of Kansas, an 
owner of nineteen slaves was himself forced to 
work like a trooper to keep them from freezing; 
and, indeed, one of them did freeze to death and 
another was seriously injured. 

In spite of all the advertising of opportunity and 
all the pressure brought to bear upon Southerners 
to settle in Kansas, at no time did the number of 


slaves in the Territory reach three hundred. The 
climate and the soil made for freedom, and the 
Governors were not the only persons who were 
converted to free-state principles by residence in 
the Territory. 



The decision and arguments of the Supreme Court 
upon the Dred Scott case were published on 
March 6, 1857, two days after the inauguration 
of President Buchanan. The decision had been 
agreed upon many months before, and the appeal 
of the negro, Dred Scott, had been decided by 
rulings which in no way involved the validity of 
the Missouri Compromise. Nevertheless, a ma- 
jority of the judges determined to give to the newly 
developed theory of John C. Calhoun the appear- 
ance of the sanctity of law. According to Chief 
Justice Taney's dictum, those who made the Con- 
stitution gave to those clauses defining the power of 
Congress over the Territories an erroneous mean- 
ing. On numerous occasions Congress had by 
statute excluded slavery from the public domain. 
This, in the judgment' of the Chief Justice, they 
had no right to do, and such legislation was 



unconstitutional and void. Specifically the Mis- 
souri Compromise had never had any binding 
force as law. Property in slaves was as sacred as 
property in any other form, and slave-owners had 
equal claim with other property owners to protec- 
tion in all the Territories of the United States. 
Neither Congress nor a territorial Legislature 
could infringe such equal rights. 

According to popular understanding, the Su- 
preme Court declared "that the negro has no 
rights which the white man is bound to respect." 
But Chief Justice Taney did not use these words 
merely as an expression of his own or of the Court's 
opinion. He used them in a way much more con- 
temptible and inexcusable to the minds of men of 
strong anti-slavery convictions. He put them into 
the mouths of the fathers of the Republic, who 
wrote the Declaration of Independence, framed the 
Constitution, organized state Governments, and 
gave to negroes full rights of citizenship, including 
the right to vote. But how explain this strange in- 
consistency ? The Chief Justice was equal to the oc- 
casion. He insisted that in recent years there had 
come about a better understanding of the phrase- 
ology of the Declaration x>f Independence. The 
words, "All men are created equal," he admitted, 


"would seem to embrace the whole human fam- 
ily, and if they were used in a similar instru- 
ment at this day they would be so understood." 
But the writers of that instrument had not, he 
said, intended to include men of the African race, 
who were at that time regarded as not forming any 
part of the people. Therefore — strange logic ! — 
these men of the revolutionary era who treated 
negroes actually as citizens having full equal rights 
did not understand the meaning of their own words, 
which could be comprehended only after three- 
quarters of a century when, forsooth, equal rights 
had been denied to all persons of African descent. 
The ruling of the Court in the Dred Scott case 
came at a time when Northern people had a better 
idea of the spirit and teachings of the founders of 
the Republic regarding the slavery question than 
any generation before or since has had. The cam- 
paign that had just closed had been characterized 
by a high order of discussion, and it was also em- 
phatically a reading campaign. The new Republi- 
can party planted itself squarely on the principles 
enunciated by Thomas Jefferson, the reputed 
founder of the old Republican party. They went 
back to the policy of the fathers, whose words on 
the subject of slavery they eagerly read. From 


this source also came the chief material for their 
public addresses. To the common man who was 
thus indoctrinated, the Chief Justice, in describ- 
ing the sentiments of the fathers respecting slav- 
ery, appeared to be doing what Horace Greeley 
was wont to describe as "saying a thing and being 
conscious while saying it that the thing is not true." 

The Dred Scott decision laid the Republicans 
open to the charge of seeking by unlawful means 
to deprive slave-owners of their rights, and it was 
to the partizan interest of the Democrats to stand 
by the Court and thus discredit their opponents. 
This action tended to carry the entire Democratic 
party to the support of Calhoun's extreme position 
on the slavery question. Republicans had pro- 
claimed that liberty was national and slavery 
municipal; that slavery had no warrant for exist- 
ence except by state enactment; that under the 
Constitution Congress had no more right to make 
a slave than it had to make a king; that Congress 
had no power to establish or permit slavery in the 
Territories; that it was, on the contrary, the duty 
of Congress to exclude slavery. On these points 
the Supreme Court and the Republican party held 
directly contradictory opinions. 

The Democratic platform of 1856 endorsed the 


doctrine of popular sovereignty as embodied in the 
Kansas-Nebraska legislation, which implied that 
Congress should neither prohibit nor introduce 
slavery into the Territories, but should leave the 
inhabitants free to decide that question for them- 
selves, the public domains being open to slave- 
owners on equal terms with others. But once they 
had an organized territorial Government and a 
duly elected territorial Legislature, the residents of 
a Territory were empowered to choose either slave 
labor or exclusively free labor. This at least was 
the view expounded by Stephen A. Douglas, 
though the theory was apparently re;idered unten- 
able by the ruling of the Court which extended 
protection to slave-owners in all the Territories 
remaining under the control of the general Govern- 
ment. It followed that if Congress had no power 
to interfere with that right, much less had a local 
territorial Government, which is itself a creature of 
Congress. A state Government alone might con- 
trol the status of slave property. A Territory 
when adopting a constitution preparatory to be- 
coming a State would find it then in order to 
decide whether the proposed State should be free 
or slave. This was the view held by Jefferson 
Davis and the extreme pro-slavery leaders. Aided 


by the authority of the Supreme Court, they were 
prepared to insist upon a new plank in future 
Democratic platforms which should guarantee to 
all slave-owners equal rights in all Territories until 
they ceased to be Territories. Over this issue the 
party again divided in 1860. 

Republicans naturally imagined that there had 
been collusion between Democratic politicians and 
members of the Supreme Court. Mr. Seward 
made an explicit statement to that effect, and 
affirmed that President Buchanan was admitted 
into the secret, alleging as proof a few words in his 
inaugural address referring to the decision soon 
to be delivered. Nothing of the sort, however, 
was ever proven. The historian Von Hoist pre- 
sents the view that there had been a most elabo- 
rate and comprehensive program on the part of the 
slavocracy to control the judiciary of the federal 
Government. The actual facts, however, admit of 
a simpler and more satisfactory explanation. 

Judges are affected by their environment, as are 
other men. The transition from the view that 
slavery was an evil to the view that it is right and 
just did not come in ways open to general observa- 
tion, and probably few individuals were conscious 
of having altered their views. Leading churches 


throughout the South began to preach the doctrine 
that slavery is a divinely ordained institution, and 
by the time of the decision in the Dred Scott case 
a whole generation had grown up under such 

A large proportion of Southern leaders had be- 
come thoroughly convinced of the righteousness 
of their peculiar system. Not otherwise could 
they have been so successful in persuading others 
to accept their views. Even before the Dred Scott 
decision had crystallized opinion, Franklin Pierce, 
although a New Hampshire Democrat of anti- 
slavery traditions, came, as a result of his intimate 
personal and political association with Southern 
leaders, to accept their guidance and strove to give 
effect to their policies. President Buchanan was a 
man of similar antecedents, and, contrary to the 
expectation of his Northern supporters, did pre- 
cisely as Pierce had done. It is a matter of record 
that the arguments of the Chief Justice had capti- 
vated his mind before he began to show his changed 
attitude towards Kansas. In August, 1857, the 
President wrote that, at the time of the passage 
of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, slavery already ex- 
isted and that it still existed in Kansas under the 
Constitution of the United States. "This point," 


said he, "has at last been settled by the highest 
tribunal known in our laws. How it could ever 
have been seriously doubted is a mystery." 
Granted that slavery is recognized as a permanent 
institution in itself — just and of divine ordinance 
and especially united to one section of the coimtry 
— how could any one question the equal rights of 
the people of that section to occupy with their 
slaves lands acquired by common sacrifice.'^ Such 
was undoubtedly the view of both Pierce and 
Buchanan. It seemed to them "wicked" that 
Northern abolitionists should seek to infringe this 
sacred right. 

By a similar process a majority of the Supreme 
Court justices had become converts to Calhoun's 
newly announced theory of 1847. It undoubtedly 
seemed strange to them, as it did later to President 
Buchanan, that any one should ever have held a 
different view. If the Court with the force of its 
prestige should give legal sanction to the new doc- 
trine, it would allay popular agitation, ensure the 
preservation of the Union, and secure to each sec- 
tion its legitimate rights. Such apparently was 
the expectation of the majority of the Court in 
rendering the decision. But the decision was not 
unanimous. Each judge presented an individual 


opinion. Five supported the Chief Justice on the 
main points as to the status of the African race 
and the validity of the Missouri Compromise. 
Judge Nelson registered a protest against the en- 
trance of the Court into the political arena. Curtis 
and McLean wrote elaborate dissenting opinions. 
Not only did the decision have no tendency to allay 
party debate, but it added greatly to the acrimony 
of the discussion. Republicans accepted the dis- 
senting opinions of Curtis and McLean as a com- 
plete refutation of the arguments of the Chief 
Justice; and the Court itself, through division 
among its members, became a partizan institution. 
The arguments of the justices thus present a com- 
plete summary of the views of the pro-slavery and 
anti-slavery parties, and the opposing opinions 
stand as permanent evidence of the impossibility 
of reconciling slavery and freedom in the same 

It was through the masterful leadership of 
Stephen A. Douglas that the Lecompton Constitu- 
tion was defeated. In 1858 an election was to be 
held in Illinois to determine whether or not Doug- 
las should be reelected to the United States Senate. 
The Buchanan Administration was using its utmost 


influence to insure Douglas's defeat. Many east- 
ern Republicans believed that in this emergency 
Illinois Republicans should support Douglas, or 
at least that they should do nothing to diminish 
his chances for reelection; but Illinois Republicans 
decided otherwise and nominated Abraham Lin- 
coln as their candidate for the senator ship. Then 
followed the memorable Lincoln-Douglas debates. 

This is not the place for any extended account 
of the famous duel between the rival leaders, but a 
few facts must be stated. Lincoln had slowly come 
to the perception that a large portion of the people 
abhorred slavery, and that the weak point in the 
armor of Douglas was to be found in the fact that 
he did not recognize this growing moral sense. 
Douglas had never been a defender of slavery on 
ethical grounds, nor had he expressed any distinct 
aversion to the system. In support of his policy 
of popular sovereignty his favorite dictum had 
been, "I do not care whether slavery is voted up 
or voted down." 

This apparent moral obtuseness furnished to 
Lincoln his great opportunity, for his opponent was 
apparently without a conscience in respect to the 
great question of the day. Lincoln, on the con- 
trary, had reached the conclusion not only that 


slavery was wrong, but that the relation between 
slavery and freedom was such that they could 
not be harmonized within the same government. 
Early in the debate he put forth his famous utter- 
ance, "A house divided against itself cannot stand,'* 
with the explanation that in course of time either 
this country would become all slave territory or 
slavery would be restricted and placed in a position 
which would involve its final extinction. In other 
words, Lincoln's position was similar to that of the 
conservative abolitionists. As we know, Birney 
had given expression to a similar conviction of 
the impossibility of maintaining both liberty and 
slavery in this country, but Lincoln spoke at a 
time when the whole country had been aroused 
upon the great question; when it was still uncertain 
whether slavery would not be forced upon the 
people of Kansas; when the highest court in the 
land had rendered a decision which was apparently 
intended to legalize slavery in all Territories; and 
when the alarming question had been raised 
whether the next step would not be legalization 
in all the States. 

Lincoln was a long-headed politician, as well as 
a man of sincere moral judgments. He was de- 
fining issues for the campaign of 1860 and was 


putting Douglas on record so that it would be im- 
possible for him, as the candidate of his party, to 
become President. Douglas had many an uncom- 
fortable hour as Lincoln exposed his vain efforts to 
reconcile his popular sovereignty doctrine with the 
Dred Scott decision. As Lincoln expected, Doug- 
las won the senatorship, but he lost the greater 

The crusade against slavery was nearing its final 
stage. Under the leadership of such men as Sum- 
ner, Seward, and Lincoln, a political party was 
being formed whose policies were based upon the 
assumption that slavery is both a moral and a po- 
litical evil. Even at this stage the party had 
assumed such proportions that it was likely to 
carry the ensuing presidential election. Davis 
and Yancey, the chief defenders of slavery, were at 
the same time reaching a definite conclusion as to 
what should follow the election of a Republican 
President. And that conclusion involved nothing 
less than the fate of the Union. 



The crusade against slavery was based upon the 
assumption that slavery, like war, is an abnormal 
state of society. As the tyrant produces the assas- 
sin, so on a larger scale slavery calls forth servile 
insurrection, or, as in the United States, an im- 
placable struggle between free white persons and 
the defenders of slavery. 

The propaganda of Southern and Western abo 
litionists had as a primary object the prevention of 
both servile insurrection and civil war. It was as 
clear to Southern abolitionists in the .thirties as it 
was to Seward and Lincoln in the fifties that, unless 
the newly aroused slave power should be effec- 
tively checked, a terrible civil war would ensue. 
To forestall this dreaded calamity, they freely 
devoted their lives and fortunes. Peaceable 
emancipation by state action, according to the 
original program, was prevented by the rise of a 



sectional animosity which beclouded the issue. As 
the leadership drifted into the hands of extremists, 
the conservative masses were confused, misled, or 
deceived. The South undoubtedly became the vic- 
tim of the erroneous teachings of alarmists who 
believed that the anti-slavery North intended, by 
unlawful and unconstitutional federal action, to 
abolish slavery in all the States; while the North 
had equally exaggerated notions as to the aggres- 
sive intentions of the South. 

The opposing forces finally met on the plains of 
Kansas, and extreme Northern opposition became 
personified in John Brown of Osawatomie. He 
was born in Connecticut in May, 1800, of New 
England ancestry, the sixth generation from the 
Mayflower. A Calvinist, a mystic, a Bible-reading 
Puritan, he was trained to anti-slavery sentiments 
in the family of Owen Brown, his father. He 
passed his early childhood in the Western Reserve 
of Ohio, and subsequently moved from Ohio to 
New York, to Pennsylvania, to Ohio again, to 
Connecticut, to Massachusetts, and finally to New 
York once more. He was at various times tanner, 
farmer, sheep-raiser, horse-breeder, wool-merchant, 
and a follower of other callings as well. From a 
business standpoint he may be regarded as a 






collection of the Kansas State Hi 

storioal Society, 

Topeka, Kansas. 


.;ttl animosity which ) ae. As 

iidership drifted into ' xiremists. 

imservative masses wei ; sled, or 

: ved. The South undo ' the vie- 

liiii of the errone^i ;vl^nb5\s m^6\, 

unlawful and uneo?Ag4adJ3:» ^^si^qATi 
abolish slavery in &i es; whilt- i 

had equally e\ ; notions as to the 

sive intent 

The o L-s- tinaliy met on the plains of 

Kansas, arj me N » opposition became 

person iJfied in John Brown of Osawatomie. He 
was born in Cor a May, 1800, of New 

Enf/land ar* jx:th generation from the 

3i mystic, a Bible-reading 

3P ed to anti-slavery sentiments 

in of Owen Brown, his father. H( 

pj ni\(hux)d in the Western Reserve 

oi sequently moved from Ohio to 

Connect • \ia.^Na<imsetts, and finally to New 

York oui V He was at various times tanner, 

farmer, ^h l r , horse-breeder, wool-merchant, 

and a fouv .n. .. callings as well. From a 

business sti .i|M> m lay be regarded as a 


failure, for he had been more than once a bankrupt 
and involved in much litigation. He was twice 
married and was the father of twenty children, 
eight of whom died in infancy. 

Until the Kansas excitement nothing had oc- 
curred in the history of the Brown family to attract 
public attention. John Brown was not conspicu- 
ous in anti-slavery efforts or in any line of public 
reform. As a mere lad during the War of 1812 he 
accompanied his father, who was furnishing sup- 
plies to the army, and thus he saw much of soldiers 
and their officers. The result was that he acquired 
a feeling of disgust for everything military, and he 
consistently refused to perform the required mili- 
tary drill until he had passed the age for service. 
Not quite in harmony with these facts is the state- 
ment that he was a great admirer of Oliver Crom- 
well, and Rhodes says of him that he admired Nat 
Turner, the leader of the servile insurrection in 
Virginia, as much as he did George Washington. 
There seems to be no reason to doubt the testi- 
mony of the members of his family that John 
Brown always cherished a lively interest in the 
African race and a deep sympathy with them. As 
a youth he had chosen for a companion a slave 
boy of his own age, to whom he became greatly 


attached. This slave, badly clad and poorly fed, 
beaten with iron shovel or anything that came first 
to hand, young Brown grew to regard as his equal 
if not his superior. And it was the contrast be- 
tween their respective conditions that first led 
Brown to "swear eternal war with slavery." In 
later years John Brown, Junior, tells us that, on 
seeing a negro for the first time, he felt so great a 
sympathy for him that he wanted to take the 
negro home with him. This sympathy, he assures 
us, was a result of his father's teaching. Upon the 
testimony of two of John Brown's sons rests the 
oft-repeated story that he declared eternal war 
against slavery and also induced the members of 
his family to unite with him in formal consecration 
to his mission. The time given for this incident 
is previous to the year 1840; the idea that he was 
a divinely chosen agent for the deliverance of the 
slaves was of later development. 

As early as 1834 Brown had shown some active 
interest in the education of negro children, first in 
Pennsylvania and later in Ohio. In 1848 the 
Brown family became associated with an enterprise 
of Gerrit Smith in northern New York, where a hun- 
dred thousand acres of land were offered to negro 
families for settlement. During the excitement 


over the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Brown or- 
ganized among the colored people of Springfield, 
Massachusetts, "The United States League of 
Gileadites.'* As an organization this undertaking 
proved a failure, but Brown's formal written in- 
structions to the "Gileadites" are interesting on 
account of their relation to what subsequently 
happened. In this document, by referring to the 
multitudes who had suffered in their behalf, he 
encouraged the negroes to stand for their liberties. 
He instructed them to be armed and ready to rush 
to the rescue of any of their number who might be 
attacked: . 

Should one of your number be arrested, you must collect 
together as quickly as possible, so as to outnumber your 
adversaries who are taking an active part against you. 
Let no able-bodied man appear on the ground un- 
equipped, or with his weapons exposed to view: let that 
be understood beforehand. Your plans must be known 
only to yourself, and with the understanding that all 
traitors must die, wherever caught and proven to be 
guilty. "Whosoever is fearful or afraid, let him return 
and depart early from Mount Gilead" (Judges, vii. 3; 
Deut. XX. 8) . Give all cowards an opportunity to show 
it on condition of holding their peace. Do not delay one 
moment after you are ready: you will lose all your resolu- 
tion if you do. Let the first blow he the signal for all to 
engage: and when engaged do not do your work hy halves. 


but make clean work with your enemies, — and be sure you 
meddle not with any others. By going about your busi- 
ness quietly, you will get the job disposed of before the 
number that an uproar would bring together can collect; 
and you will have the advantage of those who come out 
against you, for they will be wholly unprepared with 
either equipments or matured plans; all with them will 
be confusion and terror. Your enemies will be slow to 
attack you after you have done up the work nicely; and 
if they should, they will have to encounter your white 
friends as well as you; for you may safely calculate on a 
division of the whites, and may by that means get to an 
honorable parley. 

He gives here a distinct suggestion of the plans and 
methods which he later developed and extended. 

When Kansas was opened for settlement, John 
Brown was fifty -four years old. Early in the spring 
of 1855, five of his sons took up claims near Osa- 
watomie. They went, as did others, as peaceable 
settlers without arms. After the election of March 
30, 1855, at which armed Missourians overawed 
the Kansas settlers and thus secured a unanimous 
pro-slavery Legislature, the free-state men, under 
the leadership of Robinson, began to import 
Sharp's rifles and other weapons for defense. 
Brown's sons thereupon wrote to their father, de- 
scribing their helpless condition and urging him to 
come to their relief. In October, 1855, John Brown 


himself arrived with an adequate supply of rifles 
and some broadswords and revolvers. The process 
of organization and drill thereupon began, and 
when the Wakarusa War occurred early in Decem- 
ber, 1855, John Brown was on hand with a small 
company from Osawatomie to assist in the defense 
of Lawrence. The statement that he disapproved 
of the agreement with Governor Shannon which 
prevented bloodshed is not in accord with a letter 
which John Brown wrote to his wife immediately 
after the event. The Governor granted practically 
all that the free-state men desired and recognized 
their train-bands as a part of the police force of the 
Territory. Brown by this stipulation became Cap- 
tain John Brown, commander of a company of the 
territorial militia. 

Soon after the Battle of Wakarusa, Captain 
Brown passed the command of the company of 
militia to his son John, while he became the leader 
of a small band composed chiefly of members of 
his own family. Writing to his wife on April 7, 
1856, he said: "We hear that preparations are 
making in the United States Court for numerous 
arrests of free-state men. For one I have not 
desired (all things considered) to have the slave 
power cease from its acts of aggression. 'Their 



foot shall slide in due time.'" This letter of 
Brown's indicates that the writer was pleased at 
the prospect of approaching trouble. 

When, six weeks later, notice came of the attack 
upon Lawrence, John Brown, Junior, went with 
the company of Osawatomie Rifles to the relief 
of the town, while the elder Brown with a little 
company of six moved in the same direction. In a 
letter to his wife, dated June 26, 1856, more than a 
month after the massacre in Pottawatomie Valley, 
Brown said: 

On our way to Lawrence we learned that it had been 
already destroyed, and we encamped with John's com- 
pany overnight. . , . On the second day and evening 
after we left John's men, we encountered quite a num- 
ber of pro-slavery men and took quite a number of 
prisoners. Our prisoners we let go, but kept some four 
or five horses. We were immediately after this accused 
of murdering five men at Pottawatomie and great efforts 
have been made by the Missourians and their ruffian 
allies to capture us. John's company soon afterwards 
disbanded, and also the Osawatomie men. Since then, 
we have, like David of old, had our dwelling with 
the serpents of the rocks and the wild beasts of the 

There will probably never be agreement as to 
Brown's motives in slaying his ^ve neighbors on 
May 24, 1856. Opinions likewise differ as to the 


effect which this incident had on the history of 
Kansas. Abolitionists of every class had said much 
about war and about servile insurrection, but the 
conservative people of the West and South had 
mentioned the subject only by way of warning and 
that they might point out ways of prevention. 
Garrison and his followers had used language which 
gave rise to the impression that they favored vio- 
lent revolution and were not averse to fomenting 
servile insurrection. They had no faith in the 
efforts of Northern emigrants to save Kansas from 
the clutches of the slaveholding South, and they 
denounced in severe terms the Robinson leader- 
ship there, believing it sure to result in failure. To 
this class of abolitionists John Brown distinctly 
belonged. He believed that so high was the ten- 
sion on the slavery question throughout the coun- 
try that revolution, if inaugurated at any point, 
would sweep the land and liberate the slaves. 
Brown was also possessed of the belief that he was 
himself the divinely chosen agent to let loose the 
forces of freedom; and that this was the chief 
motive which prompted the deed at Pottawatomie ' 
is as probable as any other. / 

Viewed in this light, the Pottawatomie mas- 
sacre was measurably successful. Opposing forces 


became more clearly defined and were pitted against 
each other in hostile array. There were reprisals 
and counter-reprisals. Kansas was plunged into a 
state of civil war, but it is quite probable that this 
condition would have followed the looting of 
Lawrence even if John Brown had been absent 
from the Territory. 

Coincident with the warfare by organized com- 
panies, small irregular bands infested the country. 
Kansas became a paradise for adventurers, soldiers 
of fortune, horse thieves, cattle thieves, and ma- 
rauders of various sorts. Spoiling the enemy in the 
interest of a righteous cause easily degenerated 
into common robbery and murder. It was chiefly 
in this sort of conflict that two hundred persons 
were slain and that two million dollars' worth of 
property was destroyed. 

During this period of civil war the members of 
the Brown family were not much in evidence. 
John Brown, Junior, captain of the Osawatomie 
Rifles, was a political prisoner at Topeka. Swift 
destruction of their property was visited upon all 
those members who were suspected of having a 
share in the Pottawatomie murders, and their 
houses were burned and their other property was 
seized. Warrants were out for the arrest of the 


elder Brown and his sons. Captain Pate who, in 
command of a small troop, was in pursuit of Brown 
and his company, was surprised at Black Jack 
in the early morning and induced to surrender. 
Brown thus gained control of a number of horses 
and other supplies and began to arrange terms 
for the exchange of his son and Captain Pate as 
prisoners of war. The negotiations were inter- 
rupted, however, by the arrival of Colonel Sumner 
with United States troops, who restored the horses 
and other booty and disbanded all the troops. 
With the Colonel was a deputy marshal with war- 
rants for the arrest of the Browns. When ordered 
to proceed with his duty, however, the marshal 
was so overawed that, even though a federal officer 
was present, he merely remarked, "I do not recog- 
nize any one for whom I have warrants." 

After the capture of Captain Pate at Black Jack 
early in June, little is known about Brown and his 
troops for two months. Apart from an encounter 
of opposing forces near Osawatomie in which he 
and his band were engaged. Brown took no share 
in the open fighting between the organized com- 
panies of opposing forces, and his part in the irregu- 
lar guerrilla warfare of the period is uncertain. To- 
wards the close of the war one of his sons was shot 

, -J , , ^ 

' » ' 5 J 3 , 

3 > > '. , 5 5 


by a preacher who alleged that he had been robbed 
by the Browns. After peace had been restored to 
Kansas by the vigorous action of Governor Geary, 
Brown left the scene and never again took an 
active part in the local affairs of the Territory. 

John Brown's influence upon the course of 
affairs in Kansas, like William Lloyd Garrison's 
upon the general anti-slavery movement of the 
country, has been greatly misunderstood and 
exaggerated. Brown's object and intention were 
fundamentally contradictory to those of the free- 
state settlers. They strove to build a free common- 
wealth by legal and constitutional methods. He 
strove to inaugurate a revolution which would 
extend to all pro-slavery States and result in uni- 
versal emancipation. John Brown was in Kansas 
only one year, and he never made himself at one 
with those who should have been his fellow-workers 
but went his solitary way. Only in three instances 
did he pretend to cooperate with the regular free- 
state forces . He could not work with them because 
his conception of the means to be adopted to attain 
i the end was different from theirs. Probably before 
I he left the Territory in 1856, he had realized that 
his work in Kansas was a failure and that the law- 
and-order forces were too strong for the execution 


of his plans. Certain it is that within a few weeks 
after his departure he had transferred the field 
of his operations to the mountains of Virginia. 
Kansas became free through the persistent deter- 
mination of the rank and file of Northern settlers 
under the wise leadership of Governor Robinson. 
It is difficult to determine whether the cause of 
Kansas was aided or hindered by the advent of 
John Brown and the adventurers with whom his 
name became associated. 

During the fall of 1856 and until the late summer 
of 1857 Brown was in the East raising funds for the 
redemption of Kansas and for the reimbursement 
of those who had incurred or were likely to incur 
losses in defense of the cause. For the equipment 
of a troop of soldiers under his own command he 
formulated plans for raising $30,000 by private 
subscription, and in this he was to a considerable 
extent successful. It can never be known how 
much was given in this way to Brown for the equip- 
ment of his army of liberation. It is estimated 
that George L. Stearns alone gave in all fully 
$10,000. Because Eastern abolitionists had lost 
confidence in Robinson's leadership, they lent a 
willing ear to the plea that Captain Brown with a 
well-equipped and trained company of soldiers was 


the last hope for checking the enemy. Not only 
would Kansas become a slave State without such 
help, it was said, but the institution of slavery would 
spread into all the Territories and become invincible. 
The money was given to Brown to redeem 
Kansas, but he had developed an alternative plan. 
Early in the year 1857, he met in New York Colo- 
nel Hugh Forbes, a soldier of fortune who had seen 
service with Garibaldi in Italy. They discussed 
general plans for an aggressive attack upon the 
South for the liberation of the slaves, and with 
these plans the needs of Kansas had little or no 
connection. "Kansas was to be a prologue to the 
real drama," writes his latest biographer; "the 
properties of the one were to serve in the other." 
In April six months' salary was advanced out of 
the Kansas fund to Forbes, who was employed at a 
hundred dollars a month to aid in the execution 
of their plans. Another significant expenditure of 
the Kansas fund was in pursuance of a contract 
with a Mr. Blair, a Connecticut manufacturer, 
to furnish at a dollar each one thousand pikes. 
Though the contract was dated March 30, 1857, 
it was not completed until the fall of 1859, when the 
weapons were delivered to Brown in Pennsylvania 
for use at Harper's Ferry. 


Instead of rushing to the relief of Kansas, as 
contributors had expected, the leader exercised 
remarkable deliberation. When August arrived, 
it found him only as far as Tabor, Iowa, where a 
considerable quantity of arms had been previously 
assembled. Here he was joined by Colonel Forbes, 
and together they organized a school of military 
tactics with Forbes as instructor. But as Forbes 
could find no one but Brown and his son to drill, he 
soon returned to the East, still trusted by Brown 
as a coworker. It would seem that Forbes himself 
wished to play the chief part in the liberation of 

While he was at Tabor, Brown was urged by 
Lane and other former associates of his in Kansas 
to come to their relief with all his forces. There 
had, indeed, been a full year of peace since Geary's 
arrival, but early in October there was to occur the 
election of a territorial Legislature in which the 
free-state forces had agreed to participate, and 
Lane feared an invasion from Missouri. But al- 
though the appeal was not effective, the election 
proved a complete triumph for the North. Late 
in October, after the signal victory of the law-and- 
order party at the election. Brown was again urged 
with even greater insistence to muster all his forces 


and come to Kansas, and there were hints in Lane's 
letter that an aggressive campaign was afoot to rid 
the Territory of the enemy. Instead of going in 
force, however, Brown stole into the Territory 
alone. On his arrival, two days after the date set 
for a decisive council of the revolutionary faction, 
he did not make himself known to Governor Rob- 
inson or to any of his party but persuaded several 
of his former associates to join his "school" in 
Iowa. From Tabor he subsequently transferred 
the school to Springdale, a quiet Quaker com- 
munity in Cedar County, Iowa, seven miles from 
any railway station. Here the company went into 
winter quarters and spent the time in rigid drill in 
preparation for the campaign of liberation which 
they expected to undertake the following season. 

While he was at Tabor, Brown began to intimate 
to his Eastern friends that he had other and differ- 
ent plans for the promotion of the general cause. 
In January, 1858, he went East with the definite 
intention of obtaining additional support for the 
greater scheme. On February 22, 1858, at the 
home of Gerrit Smith in New York, there was held 
a council at which Brown definitely outlined his 
purpose to begin operations at some point in the 
mountains of Virginia. Smith and Sanborn at first 


tried to dissuade him, but finally consented to co- 
operate. The secret was carefully guarded: some 
half-dozen Eastern friends were apprised of it, in- 
cluding Stearns, their most liberal contributor, and 
two or three friends at Springdale. 

As early as December, 1857, Forbes began to 
write mysterious letters to Sanborn, Stearns, and 
others of the circle, in which he complained of ill- 
usage at the hands of Brown. It appears that 
Forbes erroneously assumed that the Boston 
friends were aware of Brown's contract with him 
and of his plans for the attack upon Virginia; but, 
since they were entirely ignorant on both points, 
the correspondence was conducted at cross-pur- 
poses for several months. Finally, early in May, 
1858, it transpired that Forbes had all the time 
been fully informed of Brown's intentions to begin 
the effort for emancipation in Virginia. Not only 
so, but he had given detailed information on the 
subject to Senators Sumner, Seward, Hale, Wilson, 
and possibly others. Senator Wilson was told that 
the arms purchased by the New England Aid So- 
ciety for use in Kansas were to be used by Brown 
for an attack on Virginia. Wilson, in entire igno- 
rance of Brown's plans, demanded that the Aid 
Society be effectively protected against any such 


charge of betrayal of trust. The officers of the So- 
ciety were, in fact, aware that the arms which had 
been purchased with Society funds the year before 
and shipped to Tabor, Iowa, had been placed in 
Brown's hands and that, without their consent, 
those arms had been shipped to Ohio and just at 
that time were on the point of being transported to 
Virginia. This knowledge placed the officers of the 
New England Aid Society in a most awkward posi- 
tion. Stearns, the treasurer, had advanced large 
sums to meet pressing needs during the starvation 
times in Kansas in 1857. Now the arms in Brown's 
possession were, by vote of the officers, given to the 
treasurer in part payment of the Society's debt, 
and he of course left them just where they were. ^ 
On the basis of this arrangement Senator Wilson 
and the public were assured that none of the prop- 
erty given for the benefit of Kansas had been or 
would be diverted to other purposes by the Kansas 
Committee. It was decided, however, that on 
account of the Forbes revelations the attack upon 
Harper's Ferry must be delayed for one year and 

» " When the denouement finally came, however, the public and 
press did not take a very favorable view of the transaction; it was too 
difficult to distinguish between George L. Stearns, the benefactor of 
the Kansas Committee, and George L. Stearns, the Chairman of that 
Committee. " — Villard, John Browne p. 341. 


that Brown must go to Kansas to take part in the 
pending elections. 

Though Brown arrived in Kansas late in June, 
he took no active part in the pending measures for 
the final triumph of the free-state cause. It is 
something of a mystery how he was occupied be- 
tween the 1st of July and the middle of December. 
Under the pseudonym of "Shubal Morgan" he 
was commander of a small band in which were a 
number of his followers in training for the Eastern 
mission. The occupation of this band is not matter 
of history until December 20, 1858, when they 
made a raid into the State of Missouri, slew one 
white man, took eleven slaves, a large number of 
horses, some oxen, wagons, much food, arms, and 
various other supplies. This action was in direct 
violation of a solemn agreement between the border 
settlers of State and Territory. The people in 
Kansas were in terror lest retaliatory raids should 
follow, as would undoubtedly have happened had 
not the people of Missouri taken active measures 
to prevent such reprisals. 

Rewards were offered for Brown's arrest, and 
free-state residents served notice that he must 
leave the Territory. In the dead of winter he 
started North with some slaves and many horses. 


accompanied by Kagi and Gill, two of his faithful 
followers. In northern Kansas, where they were 
delayed by a swollen stream, a band of horsemen 
appeared to dispute their passage. Brown's party 
quickly mustered assistance and, giving chase to 
the enemy, took three prisoners with four horses as 
spoils of war. In Kansas parlance the affair is 
called "The Battle of the Spurs." The leaders in 
the chase were seasoned soldiers on their way to 
Harper's Ferry with the intention of spending their 
lives collecting slaves and conducting them to 
places of safety. For this sort of warfare they were 
winning their spurs. It was their intention to 
teach all defenders of slavery to use their utmost 
endeavor to keep out of their reach. As Brown 
and his company passed through Tabor, the citi- 
zens took occasion at a public meeting to resolve 
"that we have no sympathy with those who go to 
slave States to entice away slaves, and take prop- 
erty or life when necessary to attain that end." 

A few days later the party was at Grinnell, Iowa. 
According to the detailed account which J. B. 
Grinnell gives in his autobiography. Brown ap- 
peared on Saturday afternoon, stacked his arms 
in Grinnell's parlor and disposed of his people 
and horses partly in Grinnell's house and barn and 


partly at the hotel. In the evening Brown and 
Kagi addressed a large meeting in a public hall. 
Brown gave a lurid account of experiences in Kan- 
sas, justified his raid into Missouri by saying the 
slaves were to be sold for shipment to the South, 
and gave notice that his surplus horses would be 
offered for sale on Monday. "What title can you 
give.''" was the question that came from the audi- 
ence. "The best — the aflSdavit that they were 
taken by black men from land they had cleared and 
tilled; taken in part payment for labor which is 
kept back." 

Brown again addressed a large meeting on Sun- 
day evening at which each of the three clergymen 
present invoked the divine blessing upon Brown 
and his labors. The present writer was told by an 
eye-witness that one of the ministers prayed for 
forgiveness for any wrongful acts which their guest 
may have committed. Convinced of the rectitude 
of his actions, however, Brown objected and said 
that he thanked no one for asking forgiveness for 
anything he had done. 

Returning from church on Sunday evening, 
Grinnell found a message awaiting him from Mr. 
Werkman, United States marshal at Iowa City, 
who was a friend of Grinnell. The message in part 


read: "You can see that it will give your town a 
bad name to have a fight there; then all who aid 
are liable, and there will be an arrest or blood. Get 
the old Devil away to save trouble, for he will be 
taken, dead or alive.*' Grinnell showed the mes- 
sage to Brown, who remarked: "Yes, I have 
heard of him ever since I came into the State. . . . 
Tell him we are ready to be taken, but will wait 
one day more for his military squad." True to his 
word he waited till the following afternoon and 
then moved directly towards Iowa City, the home 
of the marshal, passing beyond the city fourteen 
miles to his Quaker friends at Springdale. Here he 
remained about two weeks until he had completed 
arrangements for shipping his fugitives by rail to 
Chicago. In the meantime, where was Marshal 
Werkman of Iowa City? Was he of the same mind 
as the deputy marshal who had accompanied 
Colonel Sumner? Two of Brown's men had visited 
the city to make arrangements for the shipment. 
The situation was obvious enough to those who 
would see. The entire incident is an illuminating 
commentary on the attitude of both government 
and people towards the Fugitive Slave Law. In 
March the fugitives were safely landed in Canada 
and the rest of the horses were sold in Cleveland, 


Ohio. The time was approaching for the move on 

Brown now expended much time and attention 
upon a constitution for the provisional government 
which he was to set up. In January and February, 
1858, Brown had labored over this document for 
several weeks at the home of Frederick Douglass at 
Rochester, New York. A copy was in evidence at 
the conference with Sanborn and Gerrit Smith in 
February, and the document was approved at a 
conference held in Chatham, Canada, on May 8, 
1858, just at the time when Forbes's revelations 
caused the postponement of the enterprise. It is 
an elaborate constitution containing forty-eight 
articles. The preamble indicates the general 

Whereas, Slavery throughout its entire existence in the 
United States is none other than a most barbarous, un- 
provoked, and unjustifiable war of one portion of its 
citizens upon another portion the only conditions of 
which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servi- 
tude or absolute extermination; in utter disregard and 
violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set 
forth in our Declaration of Independence: Therefore, we 
the citizens of the United States, and the Oppressed 
People, who, by a decision of the Supreme Court are 
declared to have no rights which the White Man 
is bound to respect; together with all other people 



degraded by the laws thereof, Do, for the time being 
ordain and estabhsh for ourselves, the following pro- 
visional CONSTITUTION AND ORDINANCES, the better to 
protect our Persons, Property, Lives and Liberties and 
to govern our actions. 

Article Forty-six reads: 

The foregoing articles shall not be construed so as in 
any way to encourage the overthrow of any State 
Government or of the general government of the United 
States; and look to no dissolution of the Union, but 
simply to Amendment and Repeal. And our flag shall 
be the same that our Fathers fought under in the 

In Article Forty, "profane swearing, filthy con- 
versation, and indecent behavior" are forbidden. 
The document indicates an obvious intention to 
effect a revolution by a restrained and regulated 
use of force. 

Mobilization of forces began in June, 1859. 
Cook, one of the original party, had spent the 
year in the region of Harper's Ferry. In July the 
Kennedy farm, five miles from Harper's Ferry, 
was leased. The Northern immigrants posed as 
farmers, stock-raisers, and dealers in cattle, seek- 
ing a milder climate. To assist in the disguise. 
Brown's daughter and daughter-in-law, mere girls, 
joined the community. Even so it was difficult to 


allay troublesome curiosity on the part of neighbors 
at the gathering of so many men with no apparent 
occupation. Suspicion might easily have been 
aroused by the assembling of numerous boxes of 
arms from the West and the thousand pikes from 
Connecticut. Late in August, Floyd, Secretary of 
War, received an anonymous letter emanating 
from Springdale, Iowa, giving information which, 
if acted upon, would have led to an investigation 
and stopped the enterprise. 

/ The 24th of October was the day appointed for 
taking possession of Harper's Ferry, but fear of 
exposure led to a change of plan and the move was 
begun on the 16th of October. Six of the party 
who would have been present at the later date were 
absent. The march from Kennedy farm began 
about eight o'clock Sunday evening. Before mid- 
night the bridges, the town, and the arsenal were 
in the hands of the invaders without a gun having 
been fired. Before noon on Monday some forty 
citizens of the neighborhood had been assembled 
as prisoners and held, it was explained, as hostages 
for the safety of members of the party who might 
be taken. During the early forenoon Kagi strongly 
urged that they should escape into the mountains; 
but Brown, who was influenced, as he said, by sym- 


pathy for his prisoners and their distressed families, 
refused to move and at last found himself sur- 
rounded by opposing forces. Brown's men, having 
been assigned to different duties, were separated. 
Six of them escaped; others were killed or wounded 
or taken prisoners. Brown himself with six of his 
men and a few of his prisoners made a final stand 
in the engine-house. This was early in the after- 
noon. All avenues of escape were now closed. 
Brown made two efforts to communicate with his 
assailants by means of a flag of truce, sending first 
Thompson, one of his men, with one of his prison- 
ers, and then Stevens and Watson Brown with 
another of the prisoners. Thompson was received 
but was held as a prisoner; Stevens and Watson 
Brown were shot down, the first dangerously 
wounded and the other mortally wounded. Later 
in the afternoon Brown received a flag of truce with 
a demand that he surrender. He stated the condi- 
tions under which he would restore the prisoners 
whom he held, but he refused the unconditional 
surrender which was demanded. 

About midnight Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived 
from Washington with a company of marines. He 
took full command, set a guard of his own men 
around the engine-house and made preparation to 


effect a forcible entrance at sunrise on Tuesday 
morning in case a peaceable surrender was refused. 
Lee first offered to two of the local companies the 
honor of storming the castle. These, however, 
declined to undertake the perilous task, and the 
honor fell to Lieutenant Green of the marines, who 
thereupon selected two squads of twelve men each 
to attempt an entrance through the door. To Lee's 
aide, Lieutenant Stuart, who had known Brown in 
Kansas, was committed the task of making the 
formal demand for surrender. Brown and Stuart, 
who recognized each other instantly upon their 
meeting at the door, held a long parley, which re- 
sulted, as had been expected, in Brown's refusal 
to yield. Stuart then gave the signal which had 
been agreed upon to Lieutenant Green, who or- 
dered the first squad to advance. Failing to break 
down the door with sledge-hammers, they seized 
a heavy ladder and at the second stroke made an 
opening near the ground large enough to admit 
a man. Green instantly entered, rushed to the 
back part of the room, and climbed upon an engine 
to command a better view. Colonel Lewis Wash- 
ington, the most distinguished of the prisoners, 
pointed to Brown, saying, "This is Osawatomie." 
Green leaped forward and by thrust or stroke bent 


his light sword double against Brown's body. 
Other blows were administered and his victim fell 
senseless, and it was believed that the leader had 
been slain in action according to his wish. 

The first of the twelve men to attempt to follow 
their leader was instantly killed by gunshot. 
Others rushed in and slew two of Brown's men by 
the use of the bayonet. To save the prisoners from 
harm, Lee had given careful instruction to fire no 
shot, to use only bayonets. The other insurgents 
were made prisoners. "The whole fight," Green 
reported, *'had not lasted over three minutes." 

Of all the prisoners taken and held as hostages, 
not one was killed or wounded. They were made 
as safe as the conditions permitted. The eleven 
prisoners who were with Brown in the engine- 
house were profoundly impressed with the courage, 
the bearing, and the self-restraint of the leader and 
his men. Colonel Washington describes Brown as 
holding a carbine in one hand, with one dead son 
by his side, while feeling the pulse of another son, 
who had received a mortal wound, all the time 
watching every movement for the defense and 
forbidding his men to fire upon any one who was 
unarmed. The testimony is uniform that Brown 
exercised special care to prevent his men from 


shooting unarmed citizens, and this conduct was 
undoubtedly influential in securing generous treat- 
ment for him and his men after the surrender. 

For six weeks afterwards, until his execution on 
the 2d of December, John Brown remained a con- 
spicuous figure. He won universal admiration for 
courage, coolness, and deliberation, and for his 
skill in parrying all attempts to incriminate others. 
Probably less than a hundred people knew before- 
hand anything about the enterprise, and less than a 
dozen of these rendered aid and encouragement. 
It was emphatically a personal exploit. On the 
part of both leader and followers, no occasion was 
omitted to drive home the lesson that men were 
willing to imperil their lives for the oppressed with 
no hope or desire for personal gain. Brown es- 
pecially served notice upon the South that the day 
of final reckoning was at hand. 

It is natural that the consequences of an event so 
spectacular as the capture of Harper's Ferry should 
be greatly exaggerated. Brown's contribution to 
Kansas history has been distorted beyond all 
recognition. The Harper's Ferry affair, however, 
because it came on the eve of the final election 
before the war, undoubtedly had considerable in- 
fluence. It sharpened the issue. It played into 


the hands of extremists in both sections. On one 
side, Brown was at once made a martyr and a hero; 
on the other, his acts were accepted as a demon- 
stration of Northern mahgnity and hatred, whose 
fitting expression was seen in the incitement of 
slaves to massacre their masters. 

The distinctive contribution of John Brown to 
American hi'story does not consist in the things 
which he did but rather in that which he has been 
made to represent. He has been accepted as the 
personification of the irrepressible conflict. 

Of all the men of his generation John Brown is 
best fitted to exemplify the most difficult lesson 
which history teaches : that slavery and despotism 
are themselves forms of war, that the shedding of 
blood is likely to continue so long as the rich, the 
strong, the educated, or the efficient, strive to force 
their will upon the poor, the weak, and the ignorant. 
Lincoln uttered a final word on the subject when 
he said that no man is good enough to rule over 
another man; if he were good enough he would not 
be willing to do it. 


Among the many political histories which furnish a 
background for the study of the anti-slavery crusade, 
the following have special value : 

J. F. Rhodes, History of the United States from the 
Compromise of 1850, 7 vols. (1893-1906) . The first two 
volumes cover the decade to 1860. This is the best- 
balanced account of the period, written in an admirable 
judicial temper. H. E. von Hoist, Constitutional and 
Political History of the United States, 8 vols. (1877- 
1892). Avast mine of information on the slavery 
controversy. The work is vitiated by an almost viru- 
lent antipathy toward the South. James Schouler, 
History of the United States, 7 vols. (1895-1901). A 
sober, reliable narrative of events. Henry Wilson, 
History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in 
America, 3 vols. (1872-1877). The fullest account of 
the subject, written by a contemporary. The mate- 
rial was thrown together by an overworked statesman 
and lacks proportion. 

Three volumes in the American Nation Series aim to 
combine the treatment of special topics of commanding 
interest with general political history. A. B. Hart's 
Slavery and Abolition (1906) gives an account of the 
origin of the controversy and carries the history down 
to 1841. G. P. Garrison's Westward Extension (1906) 



deals especially with the Mexican War and its results. 
T. C. Smith's Parties and Slavery (1906) follows the 
gradual disruption of parties under the pressure of the 
slavery controversy. 

From the mass of contemporary controversial litera- 
ture a few titles of more permanent interest may be 
selected. William Goodell's Slavery and Anti-Slavery 
(1852) presents the anti-slavery arguments. A. T. 
Bledsoe's An Essay on Liberty and Slavery (1856) and 
The Pro-Slavery Argument (1852), a series of essays by 
various writers, undertake the defense of slavery. 

Only a few of the biographies which throw light on the 
crusade can be mentioned. William Lloyd Garrison, 4 
vols. (1885-1889) is the story of the editor of the Libera- 
tor told exhaustively by his children. Less voluminous 
but equally important are the following: W. Birney, 
James G. Birney and His Times (1890) ; G. W. Julian, 
Joshua R. Giddings (1892); Catherine H. Birney, Sarah 
and Angelina Grimke (1885); John T. Morse, John 
Quincy Adams. Those who have not patience to read 

E. L. Pierce's ponderous Memoir and Letters of Charles 
Sumner, 4 vols. (1877-1893), would do well to read G. H. 
Haynes's Charles Sumner (1909). 

The history of the conflict in Kansas is closely asso- 
ciated with the lives of two rival candidates for the 
honor of leadership in the cause of freedom. James Red- 
path in his Public Life of Captain John Brown (1860), 
Frank B. Sanborn in his Life and Letters of John Brown 
(1885), and numerous other writers give to Brown the 
credit of leadership. The opposition view is held by 

F. W. Blackmar in his Life of Charles Robinson (1902), 
and by Robinson himself in his Kansas Conflict (2d ed., 
1898). The best non-partizan biography of Brown is 


O. G. Vlllard's John Brown, A Biography Fifty Years 
After (1910), 

The Underground Railroad has been adequately 
treated in W. H. Siebert's The Underground Railroad 
from Slavery to Freedom (1898), but Levi Coffin's 
Reminiscences (1876) gives an earlier autobiographical 
account of the origin and management of an important 
line, while Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom*s Cabin throws the 
glamour of romance over the system. 

For additional bibliographical information the reader 
is referred to the articles on Slavery, Fugitive Slave 
Laws, Kansas, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, 
James Gillespie Birney, and Frederick Douglass in The 
Encyclopcedia Britannica (11th Edition). 


Abolition party, 96 

Abolitionists, in theory and 
practice, 9; state policy, 10; 
societies established, 11; char- 
acter of societies, 12-13; of 
middle section, 18-20; against 
war, 52; division among New 
England, 57; extreme attitude, 
60; of South, 68; legislation 
against, 71-72, 83; hearing in 
Massachusetts, 72-74; Metho- 
dist Church opposes (1836), 
74; mail controversy, 75-78; 
right of petition, 78-82; mob 
violence against, 83; cause 
furthered by opposition, 85; 
propaganda suppressed in 
South, 86; theory as to rights 
of Congress, 101; connection 
with Underground Railroad, 
114; stigmatized as law- 
breakers, 130; aim, preven- 
tion of civil war, 203; see also 
Anti-slavery societies. Eman- 

Adams, J. Q., on right of peti- 
tion, 78-82; warns South, 
85-86; against extension of 
slavery, 86-87; successors, 99- 
100, 165 

Alabama admitted as State 
(1819), 15; forbids importa- 
tion of slaves, 35; Birney as 
educational leader in, 35; 
Williams indicted in, 70 

American and Foreign Anti- 
Slavery Society, 57 

American Anti-Slavery Society, 

Birney's connection \\ath, 36- 
37; in Philadelphia, 45-46; 
women and, 45-46, 49, 57; 
recognizes division of state 
and federal powers, 5Q 

American Colonization Society, 
Birney contributes to, 34-35 

Anthony, Susan B., 51-52 

"Anti-Nebraska men," 149-50 

Anti-Slavery Friends Society, 

Anti-slavery societies, 94; see 
also Abolitionists, American 
and Foreign Anti-Slavery So- 
ciety, American Anti-Slavery 
Society, Anti-Slavery Friends 
Society, Colonization, New 
England Anti-Slavery Society, 
New York Anti-Slavery So- 
ciety, Pennsylvania Abolition 

Arkansas becomes slave State 
(1836), 17 

Atchison, D. R., 146, 147, 148 

Baptist Church, division in, 84 

"Barnburners," 92 

Barnes, Jack, slave case, 115-16 

Beecher, H. W., 157-58 

"Beecher's Bibles, "158 

Benton, T. H., 145, 146, 147 

Birney, J. G., born (1792), 33; 
early life, 33-34; favors grad- 
ual emancipation, 34-35; re- 
moves to Alabama, 34; educa- 
tional leader, 35; interviews 
Clay, 35, 90; agent of coloni- 
zation society, 36; returns to 




Birney, J. G. — Continued 
Kentucky, 36; frees slaves, 36; 
and American Anti-Slavery 
Society, 36-37; travels and 
lectures, 37; publishes Philan- 
thropist in Cincinnati, 37; 
mobbed, 37; moves to New 
York, 37; quoted, 38; and 
Garrison, 38-39; compared 
with Lundy, 39-40; candidate 
for Presidency, 39, 49, 88, 
89-90; attitude toward women 
in anti-slavery work, 49; typi- 
cal slaveholding abolitionist, 
54; attitude toward extension 
of slavery, 62; persecution of, 

Blair, Connecticut manufacturer, 
furnishes pikes to John Brown, 

Brazil emancipates slaves, 1 

Breckinridge, J. C, 146 

Brooks, Preston, attacks Sum- 
ner, 160, 176-78 

Brown, John, at first antagonist 
of war, 52; reason for selecting 
Virginia for venture, 125; Pot- 
tawatomie massacre, 161, 210- 
211; life, 204-06; organizes 
"The United States League of 
Gileadites," 207-08; sons 
settle in Kansas, 208; arrives 
in Kansas with arms, 208-09; 
in Wakarusa War, 209; made 
captain of militia, 209; letters 
to his wife, 209-10; part in 
civil war in Kansas, 212-13; 
object in Kansas, 214; in- 
fluence, 214-15, 231; raises 
money for redemption of 
Kansas, 215; connection with 
Forbes, 216; organizes mili- 
tary school at Tabor (la.), 
217; returns to Kansas, 218; 
transfers school to Springdale, 
218; plans attack on Virginia, 
218-20; in Kansas, 221; "Shu- 
bal Morgan," 221; raid into 
Missouri (1858), 221; at Grin- 

nell (la.), 222-24; constitution 
for provisional government, 
225-26; at Harper's Ferry, 
226-32; execution, 231; bib- 
liography, 234-35 

Brown, Watson, son of John 
Brown, 228 

Buchanan, James, presidential 
candidate, 162; elected, 163; 
appoints Walker Governor of 
Kansas, 183; approves Le- 
compton Constitution, 187; 
accused of collusion in Dred 
Scott decision, 196; accepts 
Southern views, 197; adopts 
Calhoun's theory, 198 

Buford, Colonel Jefferson, ex- 
pedition to Kansas, 157, 159, 

Butler, A. P., opinion of Fugitive 
Slave Law, 129; and Sumner, 
172-73, 175-76 

Calhoun, J. C, declares slavery 
a good, 65; and abolition mail, 
77, 78; sectionalism of, 100-01; 
insists on balance between 
slave and free States, 103; 
Benton and, 145; guards pro- 
slavery interests, 146; theory 
of property right in Terri- 
tories, 147-48, 191 

Calhoun, John, president of 
Lecompton Convention, 185 

California, discovery of gold in, 
99; Douglas favors admission 
as free State, 103; slavery 
excluded from, 104-05, 106; 
admitted as free State (1850), 

Canada, Lundy visits, 31; as 
refuge for fugitive slaves, 112 

Cass, Lewis, 92, 105, 176 

Chase, S. P., 69 

China, relations established with, 

Clay, Henry, Birney interviews, 
35, 90; presidential candidate, 
88; defeat of 1844, 89-90; dies 



Clay, Henry — Continued 
in middle of century, 99-100; 
compromise, 107; on Fugitive 
Slave Law, 110; proposes 
gradual emancipation for Ken- 
tucky, 147 

Coffin, Levi, reputed president of 
Underground Railroad, 114- 

Colonization, societies, 20; Lundy 
and, 30; Garrison repudiates, 
31; Birney and, 34-35, 36 

Compromise of 1850, 104, 148 

Congress, petition presented in 
1790, 11-12; right of petition, 

Cook, one of John Brown's 
party, 226 

Cotton industry, effect on slav- 
ery, 21-22 

Crandall, Prudence, 70 

Creole, The, slave case, 82 

Cuba, urged to throw off Spanish 
yoke, 61; United States pro- 
tests emancipation in, 61 

Curtis, Judge B. R., dissenting 
opinion in Dred Scott case, 

Davis, Jefferson, guardian of 
pro-slavery interests, 146; on 
popular sovereignty, 195-96; 
decides on secession, 202 

Davis, John, of Massachusetts, 

Democratic party, denounces 
abolitionists (1840), 88; favors 
annexation of Texas (1844), 88, 
89; nominates Cass (1848), 
92; split in, 92, 105; first called 
Republican party, 97; fusion 
with Whigs in South, 105; 
supports compromise and Fugi- 
tive Slave Law (1852), 111; 
reabsorbs Free-soilers, 144; 
supports Calhoun's position 
on slavery, 194 

Dew, Thomas, 65 

Dickson, John, 79 

Dillingham, Richard, 122 

District of Columbia, Congress 
urged to prohibit slavery in, 
94-95; abolition of slave-trade 
in, 108-09 

Douglas, S. A., Jackson's mantle 
falls on, 100; an expansionist, 
102-03; popular sovereignty, 
148, 195; Kansas-Nebraska 
bill, 149; opposes free-state 
government in Kansas, 158; 
attitude toward Kansas set- 
tlers, 174; and Sumner, 176; 
opposes Lecompton Constitu- 
tion, 187; responsible for its 
defeat, 199; reelection to 
Senate, 199-202; Lincoln- 
Douglas debates, 200-02 

Douglass, Frederick, 48, 123, 

Dow, CM., free-state settler in 
Kansas, 156 

Dred Scott decision, 101, 191-94, 

Emancipation advocated by 
Friends, 8, 11; in North, 18- 
19, 20; "horrors of San Domin- 
go," 24; Garrison advocates, 
31; Birney approves gradual, 
34-35; probable outcome of 
peaceable, 142; Clay proposes 
gradual, 147 

Emigrant Aid Company, 150- 
151; see also New England 
Emigrant Aid Association 

Everett, Edward, Governor of 
Massachusetts, 71-72 

Faulkner, of Virginia, 64 

Fillmore, Millard, approves com- 
promise measures, 107; de- 
feated by Buchanan, 163 

Florida to be slave State, 17; 
wilds as refuge for fugitive 
slaves, 112 

Floyd, J. B., Secretary of War, re- 
ceives anonymous letter about 
John Brown, 227 



Forbes, Colonel Hugh, 216, 217, 

Franklin, Benjamin, 11 

Free-soil party, principles of Gar- 
rison, 57-58; Buffalo conven- 
tion, 93; becomes Republican 
party, 97; denounces Fugitive 
Slave Act, 127, 144 

Fremont, J. C-, defeated by 
Buchanan, 163 

French Revolution, 7-8 

Friends, Society of, advocates 
emancipation, 8, 11; contribu- 
tion to conception of equality, 
27-28; garb a protest against 
slavery, 43; women of, 45; as 
friends of fugitive slaves, 115- 
122; division in Indiana, 120- 

Fugitive Slave Act, 109-10, 
121-22, 129, 130, 168-69, 171 

"Gag resolution," 80-81 

Garrison, W. L., Lundy meets, 
31; rejects colonization, 31, 
55; advocates emancipation, 
31, 55; convicted of libel, 31, 
42; indebtedness to Lundy, 33, 
54-55; and Birney, 38-39; a 
non-resistant, 52, 56; founds 
Liberator, 54; Address to the 
Public, 55; on obligation to 
remove slavery, 56; and abo- 
lition split, 56, 57; burns copy 
of Constitution, 57; and rhe- 
torical abuse, 58; denies con- 
nection with Turner insurrec- 
tion, 59 (note); mobbed in 
Boston, 69; reward offered for, 
70; address in Massachusetts 
legislature, 72 

Gayle, John, Governor of Ala- 
bama, 70 

Geary, J. W., Governor of Kan- 
sas, 162, 214; conflict with 
legislature. 163, ,182-83; re- 
signs, 164 

Genius of Universal Emancipa- 
tion, 30, 31-32 

Georgia finds slavery profitable, 
8-9; prohibitory slave law in, 
10 (note); opposes abolition 
petition, 12; relation to anti- 
slavery movement, 20-21; re- 
ward for Garrison, 70 

Giddings, J. R., 82-83 

Gill, G. B., follower of John 
Brown, 222 

Goodell, William, Slavery and 
Anti-Slavery, cited, 12 (note); 
speech in Massachusetts legis- 
lature, 73 

Great Britain blamed for slave- 
trade, 6-7, 23; liberates all 
slaves, 25 

Greeks, slavery among, 2-3, 5 

Greeley, Horace, quoted, 194 

Green, Lieutenant, captures John 
Brown, 229, 230 

Grimke, Angelina, 40-44; Appeal 
to the Christian Women of the 
South, 42, 75 

Grimke, Sarah, 40, 41, 43, 44 

Grinnell, J. B., account of John 
Brown, 222-24 

Grinnell (la.), John Brown at, 

Gulf States, relation to anti- 
slavery movement, 20-21 

Hale, J. P., 219 

Hamlet, James, slave case, 109 

Harper's Ferry, John Brown at, 

Hayti, abolition of slavery in, 

24-25; Lundy takes negroes 

to, 30 
Helper, H. R., The Impending 

Crisis, 137-42, 143 

Illinois admitted as State (1818), 
15; Underground Railroad in 
northern, 126 

Indiana admitted as State 
(1816), 14; anti-slavery work 
of women in, 46-47; favorable 
to fugitive slaves, 126 



Iowa, fugitive slaves in, 126; 
John Brown in, 217-18, 220, 


Jackson, Andrew, and abolition 
mail, 76-77, 78; selects Doug- 
las to succeed him, 100 

Jamaica, slaves freed in, 25 

Japan, relations established with, 

Jones, Sheriff, in Kansas, 156, 
158-59, 160 

Kagi, J. H., follower of John 
Brown, 222, 223, 227 

Kansas, and slavery, 142-43, 
150-64, 182-90; emigration to, 
151; Reeder as Governor, 
152-54; elections in, 152; pro- 
slavery legislatures, 152-53, 
163; Shannon as Governor, 
154, 156, 162, 164; pro-slavery 
code, 154-55; Topeka Con- 
vention, 155; Topeka Consti- 
tution, 155, 173-74; Waka- 
rusa War, 156-57, 209; Bu- 
ford expedition, 157, 159, 160; 
" Beecher's Bibles," 158; attack 
on Lawrence, 158-60; Sum- 
ner's speeches, 160, 173-74, 
175-76, 178-79, 181; attack 
on Sumner, 160, 176-77; John 
Brown at Pottawatomie, 161, 
210-11; state of war in, 161- 
162, 212-13; change in govern- 
ment, 162; Geary as Governor, 
162, 163-64, 182-83, 214; 
Pierce upholds pro-slavery 
party, 163-64; Lecompton 
Convention, 182-86; Walker 
as Governor, 183-84, 186; 
Buchanan's attitude toward, 
183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 197-98; 
Lecompton Constitution, 185- 
188, 199; slaves in, 189-90; 
see also Brown, John; Law- 

Kansas-Nebraska bill, 149-50, 

Kendall, Amos, Postmaster- 
General, 75-76 

Kentucky, admitted as State 
(1792), 14; slave territory, 15; 
pro-slavery reaction in, 35, 36 

Kossuth, Louis, 98 

Lane Theological Seminary, Asa 
Mahan professor in, 51; aboli- 
tion movement, 74-75 

Lawrence (Kan.), Underground 
Railroad at, 126; founded, 
151; Wakarusa War, 156- 
157, 209; attack on, 158-60 

Lecompton Constitution for Kan- 
sas, 185-88, 199 

Lecompton Convention, 182-86 

Lee, Colonel R. E., at Harper's 
Ferry, 228-30 

Liberator, 18, 54, 55, 56, 58-59, 

Liberty party organized, 39, 88; 
Birney as candidate, 39, 88, 
89; principles of Garrison, 57; 
platform (1844), 95-96, 127; 
becomes Free-soil party, 97 

Lincoln, Abraham, Lincoln- 
Douglas debates, 200-02; 
leader of Republican party, 

Louisiana admitted as State 
(1812), 14 

Louisiana Purchase, 87 

L'Ouverture, Toussaint, 25 

Lovejoy, Elijah, 69, 70 

Lundy, Benjamin, a New Jersey 
Quaker, 27; early life, 28-29; 
publishes Genius of Universal 
Emanci'pation, 30, 31-32; anti- 
slavery work, 30-33, 54, 69; 
plans for colonization, 30-31; 
meets Garrison, 31; founds 
National Inquirer, 32; death 
(1839), 32; compared with 
Birney, 39-40; attitude to- 
ward expansion, 62 

McCaleb, W. F., Texas and the 
Mexican War, cited, 86 (note) 




McDowell, James, Governor of 
Virginia, quoted, 63-64 

McDnffie, George, Governor of 
South Carolina, 71 

McLean, Judge John, dissenting 
opinion in Dred Scott decision, 

Mahan, Asa, President of Ober- 
lin, 51 

Maine admitted as State (1820), 

Marcy, W. L., Governor of New 
York, 70; quoted, 72 

Martineau, Harriet, 66 

Mason, J. M., 176 

Mason and Dixon's Line, 14, 15, 

Massachusetts, doctrine of equal- 
ity in, 6; abolitionists' hearing 
in legislature, 72-74 

May, Rev. S. J., 50, 53 

Methodist Church against abo- 
litionists (1836), 74; division 
in, 84 

Mexican War, 86, 90 

Mexico, slavery in, 24; Lundy 
visits, 31; abolishes slavery 
(1829), 61; treaty with (1848), 

Michigan admitted as State 
(1837), 17 

Millson, of Virginia, quoted, 143 

Mississippi admitted as State 
(1817), 14 

Missouri admitted as State, 
16; slavery question in, 142, 
145-49, 188; tries to extend 
slavery to Kansas, 151 et seq., 
182, ^ 188-89; John Brown's 
raid into, 221 

Missouri Compromise, 16, 17, 
.103-04, 147, 148, 149, 192, 199 

Mott, Lucretia, 45-46, 50 

Mount Pleasant Philanthropist, 

Nashville Daily Gazette, 122 
Nassau, negroes set free at, 82 
National Inquirer, 32 

Negroes, suffrage, 67; education, 
68, 70, 206; restrictions, 68; 
see also Slavery 

Nelson, Judge Samuel, 199 

New England, attitude toward 
slavery, 18; blamed for slave- 
trade, 7, 23; abolitionists of, 
52; see also Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island 

New England Aid Society, 219- 

New England Anti-Slavery So- 
ciety, 55 

New England Emigrant Aid 
Association, 158; see also 
Emigrant Aid Company 

New Jersey, slavery in, 18-19; 
gradual emancipation in, 20 

New Mexico, territorial govern- 
ment, 104, 107; remains free, 

New York, slavery in, 18-19; 
gradual emancipation in, 20 

New York Anti-Slavery Society, 

New York Emancipator, 71 

North Carolina finds slavery 
profitable, 8-9; protest against 
slavery in, 19; furnishes men 
to Union army, 142 

Northwest Territory, slavery 
prohibited in, 15 

Oberlin College founded (1833), 
50-51; co-education, 51; ne- 
groes admitted, 51 ; temperance 
at, 51 
Ohio admitted as State, 14; 

nature of population, 126 
Olmsted, F. L., 137, 141 
Omnibus Bill, 107, 109 
Ordinance of 1787, 15, 17 
Osborne, a prototype of Simon 
Legree, 116 

Palmerston, Lord, opinion of 
Uncle Torns Cabin, 134 

Pate, Captain, captured by John 
Brown, 213 



Peace movement, 52, 53 
Pendleton (Ind.)> disturbance in, 

Pennsylvania, freedmen in, 19; 

gradual emancipation in, 20 
Pennsylvania Abolition Society, 

Petition, Right of, debated in 

Congress, 78-82 ^ 
Philanthropist published by Bir- 

ney, 37 
Phillips, Wendell, address (1861), 

25; joins anti-slavery cause, 

Pierce, Franklin, in Kansas 

controversy, 153-54; upholds 

pro-slavery party in Kansas, 

158, 163-64; attitude toward 

Kansas settlers, 174; accepts 

Southern views, 197, 198 
Politics, slavery issue in, 85-97 
Polk, J. K., 89 ... 

Presbyterian Church, division 

in, 84 
Press, freedom of, 68-70 
Price, Judge W. C, 146 

Quakers, see Friends, Society of 

Railroads, construction of, 99 

Reeder, A. H., Governor of 
Kansas, 152; elections under, 
152-53; and Pierce. 153-54; 
removed, 154; approves free- 
state convention, 155; Free- 
soil delegate to Congress, 155; 
accused of treason, 159 

Republican party, platform 
recognizes state rights, 56; 
principles of Garrison, 67-58; 
name applied to party of 
Jefferson, 97; and Fugitive 
Slave Law, 128; name given in 
1856, 150; principles of Jeffer- 
son, 193-94; attitude on slav- 
ery, 194 

Rhode Island, bill to suppress 
abolition societies in, 72, 74 

Rhodes, J. F., on influence of 

cotton on slavery, 22; on 
Uncle Tom's Cabin, 136 

Richmond Enquirer, 65 

Robinson, Dr. Charles, connec- 
tion with Emigrant Aid Com- 
pany, 151; Governor of Kan- 
sas under Topeka Constitu- 
tion, 155; accused of treason, 
159; opinion of free-state 
cause, 160; advises forcible 
resistance, 175; address at 
Lawrence, 188-89; Garrison 
denounces, 211 

Romans, slavery among, 3 

Sanborn, F. B., friend of John 
Brown, 218, 219, 225 

Santo Domingo, insurrection 
fomented by negroes from, 
60; see also Hayti 

Schouler, James, History of the 
United States, cited, 60 (note) 

Seward, W. H., 100, 196, 202, 

Shannon, Wilson, Governor of 
Kansas, 154, 156, 162, 164 

Sherman, John, of Ohio, 143 

Silliman, Professor, Benjamin, 
Sr., subscribes rifle for Kansas, 

Simms, W. G., 65-66 

Slavery, Brazil frees slaves, 1; 
ancient classical controversy 
over, 2-3; issue in seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, 3-4; 
gradual trend against, 6; 
accepted as inheritance, 7; 
thought to be temporary, 8; 
little debate on issue, 9-10; 
not adopted by law, 10; as an 
economic institution, 21-23; 
effect of cotton industry on, 
21-22; effect on industries, 
63; moral justification of, 
65-66,^ 166, 196-97; "gag 
resolution," 80-81; question 
of state control, 94; theory of 
popular sovereignty, 148; 
Sumner opposes, 166-76, 179- 



Slavery — Continued 

181; question in 1852, 168; 
Lecompton Constitution, 185- 
188, 199; see also Abolitionists, 
Colonization, Dred Scott de- 
cision. Fugitive Slave Act, 
Kansas, Slave-trade 

Slave-trade, complaints against 
Great Britain for introducing, 
6-7, 23; New England blamed 
for, 7, 23; Southern planters 
delay abolition of, 9; interstate, 
22-23; abolition of African, 
23; Garrison and Lundy 
oppose, 31; Alabama forbids 
importation of slaves, 35; 
federal right of control, 94-95; 
abolition in District of Colum- 
bia, 108-09 

Smith, Gerrit, 69, 130, 206, 218, 

Smith, General P. F., commands 
in Kansas, 162 

South, abolitionists of, 52, 68; 
pro-slavery reaction in, 113 

South Carolina finds slavery 
profitable, 8-9; opposes anti- 
slavery petition, 12; relation 
to anti-slavery movement, 20- 
21; insurrection in, 60; laws 
to suppress abolition societies, 

"Spurs. Battle of the," 222 

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 50 

Stanton, F. P., acting Governor 
of Kansas, 186 

Stearns, G. L., 215, 219, 220 

Stevens, companion of John 
Brown, 228 

Stone, Lucy, 51 

Story, Joseph, 165 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Uncle 
Toms Cabin, 47, 131-37 

Stuart, Lieutenant J. E. B., 
demands Brown's surrender, 

Sumner, Charles, speaks against 
war, 52; attacked by Brooks, 
160, 176-77; early life, 165; 

political career, 166; compared 
with Adams, 166; as constitu- 
tional lawyer, 166-67; opposes 
slavery, 166-73; controversy 
with Butler, 172-73, 175-76; 
Crime Against Kansas, 173-74, 
175-76, 178, 181; injuries, 179; 
Barbarism of Slavery, 179-80, 
181; a party man, 180; leader 
of Republican party, 202; 
given information about John 
Brown, 219; bibliography, 
Sumner, Colonel E. V., 213 
Supreme Court in politics, 191- 

Tabor (la.), John Brown at, 
217, 218, 222 

Taney, R. B., Chief Justice, 191, 
192-93, 194 

Taylor, Zachary, nominated for 
Presidency, 92; election, 93, 
105; supported by Southern 
Democrats, 105-06; activities, 

Telegraph, influence on anti- 
slavery movement, 99 

Temperance becomes issue, 51- 
52; question nearing settle- 
ment, 53 

Tennessee admitted as State 
(1796), 14; slavery in, 15; 
protest against slavery in, 19 

Texas as slave State, 17; Lundy 
visits, 31; annexation of, 86, 
87; Adams supports purchase 
of, 87; Douglas prophesies re- 
garding, 103; Southern leaders 
project scheme of enlarging, 
106; boundary claims, 108 

Thayer, Eli, 150 

Thompson, one of John Brown's 
men, 228 

Thompson, George, quoted, 59- 

Tillman, B. R., of South Carolina, 

Todd, Francis, 31 



Toombs, Robert, 146, 177 
Topeka Constitution, 155, 173- 

Topeka Convention, 155 
Turner, Nat, Rebellion, 54, 59, 


Uncle Tom's Cabin as it is, 136 
Underground Railroad, 112-30; 

bibliography, 235 
Union Humane Society, 29 
United States League of Gilead- 

ites. The, 207-08 
Utah, territorial government, 

104, 107 

Van Buren, Martin, 92 

Vermont admitted as State 
(1791), 14 

Villard, O. G., John Brown, 
quoted, 220 (note) 

Virginia supports anti-slavery 
petition (1790), 12; becomes 
intolerant, 17-18; first slaves 
from West Indies, 24; debates 
in legislature, 62-65 

Von Hoist, H. E., cited, 196 

Wakarusa War, 156-57, 209 
Walker, R. J., Governor of Kan- 
sas, 183-86; urges free-state 
party to vote, 183-84; protests 
Lecompton Constitution, 186 

Washington, George, fugitive 
slaves under, 113 

Washington, Colonel Lewis, 229, 

Webster, Daniel, 99-100, 109, 

Werkman, United States mar- 
shal at Iowa City, 223-24 

West, anti-slavery agitation in, 
46-48; abolitionists of, 52 

West Indies, slavery in, 24 

West Virginia admitted as free 
State, 142 

Whig party, attitude toward 
abolitionists (1840), 88; on 
Texas issue (1844), 88; nomi- 
nates Taylor (1848), 92; pass- 
ing of, 98-111; Friends belong 
to, 121; vote of 1852, 144 

WiHiams, R. G., 70 

Wilmot Proviso, 90-91, 105 

Wilson, Henry, of Massachusetts, 

Women, part in anti-slavery 
cause, 40 ei seq.; change in 
position of, 44-45; rights 
movement, 49, 50-51; tem- 
perance agitation, 51-52; and 
the American Anti-Slavery 
Society, 45-46, 49, 57 

Wright, Frances, 49 

Yancey, W. L., 202 

GC 326.973 Ml 77a 

Macy, Jesse, 1842-1919. 

The anti-slavery crusade; a chronicle of 

3 3091 00191 7004 

Date Due 

,' I ■ _ ■ > ' 


FEB A - t97l 

> /^- rv 

JUN 2; 






IN U. S. A. 

3^^1 326.973 
^'^^'' K177a 

-slavery crusade 



The anti- slavery crusade